Ian Bailey ‘considered suicide’ after arrest over murder
High Court hears claim death threat made to journalist by Garda as he was driven to station
Ian Bailey arrives at the Four Courts in Dublin. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Ian Bailey said he contemplated suicide due to “a deep sense of despair and hopelessness” and “collapse of normality” after being twice arrested by gardaí investigating the murder of French film-maker Sophie Toscan du Plantier.
The second arrest was on January 20th 1998, the day of his 41st birthday, and a Garda from Dublin, Ted Murphy, told him there was “a nice little cell waiting for you in Mountjoy,” he said.
The first arrest was almost a year earlier, on February 10th, 1997.
Mr Bailey was shocked by both arrests which followed a similar pattern with gardaí. There was an atmosphere of hostility and aggression and an insistence they and everybody knew he had killed Ms du Plantier - whose body was found at Toormore, Schull, on December 23rd 1996 - despite his denials, he said.
Mr Bailey told the court he was aware after the murder of talk that he had something to do with it, which was a “dreadful, rotten, stinking lie”.
He experienced sleep disturbance and weight loss and his mind was so troubled after the first arrest he could not read a full book for five years, could not get work as a journalist, was “branded” in the community and lost close friends.
A shop owner in Schull went “wild” and told him to: “Get out, get out” when he went in seeking to sell courgettes, he said.
His mind was also troubled by what he considered as “a death threat” made by the driver of the patrol car which brought him to Bandon Garda station after his first arrest. The driver, Garda Liam Hogan, told him: “If we can’t pin this on you, you’re finished in Ireland. You’ll be found dead in a ditch with a bullet in the back of your head,” he said.
The events in the 18 years since the December 23rd 1996 murder affected him and his partner Jules Thomas, their families and the community and this was “still going on”.
“I don’t think I handled it very well in the early days,” he told his lawyer Martin Giblin SC. “I got to the stage where I was contemplating the possibility of suicide.”
Mr Bailey said he always believed in the power of prayer and “the truth would come out”. When his solicitor Frank Buttimer told him some years later that Marie Farrell, who had given evidence against him at libel actions brought against various media, had retracted statements, that was “a great relief” and in many ways the answer to his prayer.
He said he had a visit from Garda Kevin Kelleher in January 1998 who put it to him he had made a threatening phone call to Ms Farrell and he was put on caution with a reference to the “judges rules”. He denied any such harassment, he said.
Mr Bailey said Ms Farrell, whom he did not know at the time, had approached him some months earlier in a bar in Schull and told him she wanted to meet him. She had been receiving a lot of visits from the gardaí and did not want to see an innocent man framed. He said Ms Farrell said she would arrange a meeting, which did occur.
Mr Bailey said he was accused of trying to intimidateMs Farrell but that was never the case, he said. He had later visits from gardaí who made false allegations that he had intimidated Ms Farrell, including by using a cut-throat gesture, but that never happened, he said.
Mr Bailey will continue his evidence tomorrow in his action for damages against the Garda Commissioner and State. He alleges he was wrongfully arrested in conenction with the murder of Ms du Plantier and gardai conspired to manufacture evidence against him.
The defendants deny all the claims in the action before Mr Justice John Hedigan and a jury.