Ian Bailey speaks of ‘eternal shame’ over assault on partner
Court told 1996 assault happened when couple were driving home after a night out
Ian Bailey pictured outside the Four Courts in Dublin. He told the court today that to his ‘eternal shame’ he had been violent to his partner.
He accepted Ms Thomas was hospitalised after a May 1996 incident and was hit with crutches in a 2001 incident. While he could not recall another incident in 1993, he was not disputing that happened, he added.
Luán Ó Braonain SC, for the State, told Mr Bailey his history of violence was one reason he was a suspect in the Garda investigation into murder of French film mnaker Sophie Toscan du Plantier whose body was found near Toomore, Schull, on Monday, December 23rd, 1996.
Asked if, in a hypothetical situation, a history of violence towards a woman could be a relevant factor in a person becoming a suspect for a crime involving violence, he said that could be the case if the suspicion was grounded in fact.
Counsel said another reason gardaí suspected him was because one witness had said Mr Bailey appeared to have briar scratches on his arms when in a local creamery on Christmas Eve 1996, while two other witnesses said they saw no scratches on his arms when they saw him playing a bodhrán in a bar on the night of December 22nd, 1996.
Ms Toscan du Plantier’s body was found in a laneway where there were briars and there were signs she had struggled with her attacker, counsel said.
Mr Bailey said he had marks from pine needles on his arms as a result of cutting down a Christmas tree on the afternoon of December 22nd and they were not briar scratches. He denied telling gardai previously he cut down the tree on the morning of December 22nd and said he cut it down Sunday afternoon after killing three turkeys.
He was being cross-examined in his continuing action against the Garda Commissioner and State taken on grounds including alleged wrongful arrest, false imprisonment and conspiracy arising from the Garda investigation into the murder. They deny all the claims.
When asked about domestic violence towards Ms Thomas, he said, “to my eternal shame” ,when in the past he used to drink spirits, he was involved in incidents of domestic violence. The reasons for that “have been long cured”, he said.
He said the May 1996 assault, which led to Ms Thomas being hospitalised, happened when the couple were driving home after a night out after both were drinking. He said Ms Thomas grabbed him and he pushed her away.
Asked was he saying she was to blame, he said: “That’s how it started.”
His behaviour was “appalling”, he said.
When shown photos taken after that assault in which Ms Thomas had a closed black eye and some hair missing, Mr Bailey said those were “shameful and disgraceful of me” and “absolutely appalling”.
After counsel said it seemed hair was pulled out, he said Ms Thomas had a hair condition where her hair comes out.
Counsel said it looked as if a substantial amount of hair was pulled out. Mr Bailey said he was not trying to “shy away”.
He asked: “Have I not, in some way, paid a debt for this?”
He “knew this was going to happen”, it had also happened in his libel case and he would have raised the domestic violence matetr himself but was advised agains it, he said. Counsel said he could have instructed his lawyers the matter must be raised.
Mr Bailey said the matter was discussed and it was decided it would not be raised by his side. Whatever his shortcomings and failings, “and until the day I die I will be ashamed of that”, what was subsequently done to him, “to put me in the box and brand me, I don’t want to try and minimise anything but it pales on the scales,” he said.
He agreed he had assaulted Ms Thomas in 2001 and had pleaded guilty to that. Mr Ó Braonain said Ms Thomas hit on the face and body with a crutch.
That assault was not premeditated and occurred after he was asleep in the lounge and she told him to find somehwere else to sleep, Mr Bailey said. He had his leg in plaster at the time after an accident. It happened “on the spur of the moment” and was “an act of disgraceful irresponsibility,” he said.
When counsel said: “Disgraceful violence”, Mr Bailey said: “Disgraceful violence.”
He agreed it was “common knowledge” in his local community in west Cork he had been violent to Ms Thomas.
Unfortunately, domestic violence was “commonplace” and there were “many other people” in the locality that had incidents of it, he said. “I wasn’t the only person in west Cork who engaged in domestic violence when drink was involved.”