Gsoc finds no evidence gardaí falsified evidence to incriminate Ian Bailey

Allegation by Bailey that review by DPP proved a conspiracy is also rejected by Gsoc

Gsoc investigators could find no evidence that gardaí investigating the murder of French film producer Sophie Toscan du Plantier deliberated falsified evidence to incriminate English journalist Ian Bailey (61) whom they identified as a suspect at an early stage of the investigation.

Gsoc spent almost seven years investigating complaints by Mr Bailey, his partner Jules Thomas and witness Marie Farrell alleging Garda corruption in the investigation which saw Mr Bailey twice arrested for questioning but never charged in relation to the 1996 murder.

Gsoc, after reviewing an extensive amount of documentation and reinterviewing 55 key witnesses, was clear in its conclusion that it could find no evidence to support Mr Bailey or his fellow complainants in their allegations that gardaí deliberately set out to incriminate him.

“There is no evidence to suggest that Ian Bailey was ‘framed’ for the murder or that evidence was falsified, forged or fabricated by members of An Garda Síochána,” said Gsoc, which dismissed a claim by Mr Bailey that a review by the DPP supported his allegation of corruption.

Gsoc noted the 2001 review, carried out by solicitor Robert Sheehan but signed off by his superior DPP James Hamilton, found there was insufficient evidence to merit a charge against Mr Bailey for the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier at her holiday home near Schull in west Cork in 1996.

No evidence

However, Gsoc rejected Mr Bailey’s allegation that the DPP’s review proved a conspiracy. “It is noted this critique is the opinion of the DPP and is not evidential in and of itself. There is no evidence within the critique that members of the Garda Síochána had attempted to pervert the course of justice.”

Gsoc found no evidence to support an allegation by Ms Farrell that she signed a number of blank witness statements when she went to Ballydehob Garda station on February 14th, 1997, and that a detective told her he would later fill in the statements to say Mr Bailey had threatened her.

Gsoc also examined an allegation that pressure was being put on the DPP's office to direct a charge against Mr Bailey, and that a garda asked West Cork State Solicitor Malachy Boohig to contact his UCC classmate Minister for Justice John O'Donoghue to direct the DPP to charge Mr Bailey.

Gsoc spoke with Mr Boohig and two former DPPs, the late Eamonn Barnes and James Hamilton, and concluded that any pressure on the DPP’s office was “indirect pressure via the media as opposed to pressure from An Garda Síochána”.

Highly critical

The Gsoc report is highly critical of the Garda management of the investigation, and it noted that apart from pages appearing to have been cut out from jobs books which showed Mr Bailey identified as a prime suspect for the murder within days, other important files were also missing.

These included five suspect files including files for Mr Bailey and Ms Thomas as well as three other files on suspects. And it appears these files went missing sometime before 2002 as they could not be found for the McNally review of the investigation which took place in 2002.

The Gsoc investigation also established that a total of 22 exhibits had gone missing, including a blood splattered gate, a wine bottle and Mr Bailey’s coat, as well as Mr Bailey’s diary and tape recordings/transcripts of conversations between Mr Bailey and a foreign journalist.

However, Gsoc did review 10 tapes containing 282 secretly-recorded relevant conversations between gardaí and other gardaí, gardaí and witnesses, and in some cases gardaí and journalists, and found there was no inappropriate disclosure by gardaí of information to journalists.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times