A man who ran a photograph developing business in west Cork identified Ian Bailey as the person who came to him more than three years after the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier and asked him to develop a roll of film which showed her badly beaten body.
Patrick Lowney, who died in 2016, told gardaí that a man he later identified as Mr Bailey came to his home in Clonakilty in May 2000 after phoning to ask if he developed photographs.
Mr Lowney's statement, made to Det Garda John Moore in November 2000, was read into evidence by Judge Frederic Aline at the Cours d'Assises in Paris during the trial in absentia of Mr Bailey (62) for the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier (39) at Toormore in Cork in December 1996.
Mr Lowney told gardaí he confirmed to the caller that he did develop film and the man then asked would he be prepared to develop a roll of film discreetly. When he confirmed that he would do so, the man said he would call shortly.
The man arrived some 45 minutes later and produced a 36-shot roll of film and they went into the dark room together. Mr Lowney said the man remained there as he developed the roll of film, which included about seven or eight family type photos at the start.
“After that I noticed that the remainder of the shots were of a woman lying on the ground,” said Mr Lowney.
He said she appeared to be on stony ground in front of a closed gate on a laneway leading into a farmer’s yard while there was a growth of briars and a stone wall to the side.
Mr Lowney said the shots seemed to be taken at night given how the light was projected and the woman on the ground appeared to be fully clothed. Some of the shots seemed to be taken right above the woman’s body as the tips of the photographer’s shoes were showing in some pictures, he added.
He said the man became uneasy when he started examining the shots and he began to take the shots from him before they were fully dry. Mr Lowney explained to him that the pictures needed to be left to dry in the dark room.
He said the man’s demeanour changed when he began to examine the shots, which showed an item of clothing spread or caught on the gate. Mr Lowney said the man left once the negatives were dry, telling him he might see him again to save the pictures to a disc.
Mr Lowney said he met Det Sgt Gerry McCarthy five months later and the garda showed him photographs of various men. He identified the man who called to him with the roll of film as Mr Bailey.
He later travelled with Det Sgt McCarthy and Det Garda John Moore to Ms Toscan du Plantier’s home and examined the entrance, where her body had been found on the morning of December 23rd, 1996.
“I am satisfied that having looked at the location, this was a similar location as I had developed (pictures of) for Ian Bailey,” he said, adding that the only difference was that the briars at the side of the road were not as high as in the photos.
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.
Two witnesses in a 2003 libel action taken by him testified that Mr Bailey had contacted them to offer photographs of Ms Toscan du Plantier at the crime scene. However, Mr Bailey denied this and said he had offered them photographs of Ms Toscan du Plantier as he did not learn of her death until 1.40pm on December 23rd, 1996 by which time gardaí had sealed off the crime scene - meaning he could not have provided scene shots.
The case continues.