Ian Bailey had fresh scratches on arms the day body found, court told

Cork resident being tried in absentia in Paris for Sophie Toscan du Plantier’s 1996 murder

Ian Bailey had a number of fresh and severe scratch marks on his arms on the day the body of Sophie Toscan du Plantier was found in West Cork, a court in Paris has heard.

The statement to gardaí in 1999 of Italian Ariana Boarina, who stayed with Mr Bailey and his partner Jules Thomas over Christmas 1996, was read out in court on Tuesday.

The evidence was given on the second day of Mr Bailey's trial in absentia at the Cour d'Assises de Paris for the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier at her holiday home in Toormore on December 23rd, 1996

Mr Boarina did not attend the trial but her statement made to Det Garda Jim Fitzgerald and Det Garda Liam Leahy in April 1999 was read out by presiding magistrate, Judge Frederique Aline at the hearing in Paris.


She got to know Ms Thomas' s daughter Ginny when sharing a house with her in Dublin after she came to Ireland to learn English and Ginny invited her to spend Christmas with her family in Schull in West Cork.

Ms Boarina told how she travelled first to Cork on Sunday December 22nd to stay with a friend before travelling on to Schull on the morning of Monday 23rd to stay with Ginny at her mother’s home where she met Ms Thomas and her partner, Ian Bailey,

She told how she heard about the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier on the radio on the bus and was surprised as she thought Schull was a peaceful place but when she arrived there, she was collected by Ginny’s mother, Jules Thomas who brought her to the Prairie.

“When I arrived at Jules’s house, I met Jules’s boyfriend, Ian and I immediately noticed heavy marks from scratches on both his hands. They were numerous on both hands and they were up as far as his forearms and they were fresh,” she said.

She said Mr Bailey was agitated and drinking a lot and at some stage either Ms Thomas or Mr Bailey told her that the scratch marks were caused by Mr Bailey either cutting a Christmas tree or killing turkeys. “In my own mind, I doubted this as the scratches were too numerous and too severe,” she said.

Ms Boarina told gardaí that she believed it was more likely that the scratches came from plants with sharp thorns rather than a Christmas tree and the only Christmas tree she saw at the house was a small one which was decorated with chocolate for the festive season.

Ms Boarina also told gardai that she saw a mark on Mr Bailey’s forehead but she could not remember where exactly it was located. She also recalled seeing dark clothes soaking in a bath but at some stage during her stay there, they were removed from the bath.

“When I saw Ian at first, he looked really rough …. I would describe the relationship between Ian and Jules as not very good - they were arguing a lot but I cannot say what they were arguing about as my English was not very good at the time,” said Ms Boarina who took a bus back to Dublin a few days later.

The trial also heard evidence of statements made by witness Marie Farrell, including a number from early 1997 in which she identified Mr Bailey as the man she had seen around Schull in the run up to Christmas and as the man she saw at Kealfadda Bridge on the night of December 23rd 1996.

But the trial also heard later statements she made in 2005, in which she retracted the earlier statements in which she had placed Mr Bailey at Kealfadda Bridge at around 3am on December 28th and near the scene of the crime at Ms Toscan du Plantier’s house, some 2.6kms away.

In these later statements, Ms Farrell said she had been coerced into making them by gardai knowing them to be false and she had been instructed what to say by gardai. A Gsoc investigation found no evidence to support Ms Farrell’s allegation of garda corruption to force her falsify statements.

Mr Bailey, who is not legally represented at the Cours d’Assises, has repeatedly denied having any involvement in the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier or that he ever made any admissions in relation to her death.

The case continues.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times