At a glance: Ian Bailey case against the State

This week in court: Retired Garda says surveillance of Bailey ‘not appropriate’

Ian Bailey case: This week the court heard Marie Farrell deny claiming she would get  a cut of any damages won from the State and that Garda surveillance of Mr Bailey was ‘not appropriate’. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Ian Bailey case: This week the court heard Marie Farrell deny claiming she would get a cut of any damages won from the State and that Garda surveillance of Mr Bailey was ‘not appropriate’. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

Witnesses

Former Schull shopkeeper Marie Farrell

Retired Garda and Person of the Year John Wilson

Chief Supt Tom Hayes of West Cork Garda Division

Marie Farrell denied that she ever told Geraldine O’Brien, a former employee in her ice cream parlour, that Ian Bailey was in line to get millions in damages in his action against the State and that she was going to get her cut too.

Ms O’Brien was present in Ms Farrell’s ice cream parlour in Schull on June 28th, 1997 when Mr Bailey came into the shop to see Ms Farrell. What followed is in dispute, with Ms Farrell now saying that Mr Bailey never had information on her life in London, despite a statement to gardaí to that effect.

Asked by counsel for the State Paul O’Higgins SC about Ms O’Brien’s assertion that Ms Farrell said she was going to get her cut of monies from the State, Ms Farrell said: “I certainly did not [say that] - that never happened”. She said she could not explain why Ms O’Brien would say that.

Marie Farrell denied that she invented her encounter with John Reilly, a male friend from Longford whom she had previously told the court she was with in the early hours of December 23rd, 1996 when she saw a man at Kealfadda Bridge.

She admitted that she told the McNally garda review team in 2002 a lie when she said the man that she was with was Oliver Croghan, a musician from Longford who had died from Hodgkins Disease three weeks before she met the team.

Retired garda John Wilson told the court that the number of entries regarding journalist Ian Bailey on the garda intelligence collation system was so extensive that it must have been sanctioned at a very senior level within An Garda Síochána. Mr Wilson said that he had checked the number of entries on the Garda Pulse system for Mr Bailey in 2012 and found that there were 149 such entries between 1999 and 2012.

“It’s obvious to me that this level of garda scrutiny and garda surveillance and this level of criminal intelligence collating was organised at a very high level of An Garda Síochána - of that I have no doubt,” Mr Wilson told Mr Bailey’s barrister Ronan Munro BL.

When cross-examined by counsel for the State Luán Ó Braonáin SC, Mr Wilson said he accepted that Pulse entries could be made about somebody without a criminal conviction but only once there was “cast iron information” and not just “tittle tattle and rumour”.

“This level of surveillance is reserved for individuals involved in active criminality or convicted of offences . . . It is not appropriate for a person who is not involved in such practices to be allocated a criminal intelligence number that will remain with them for life.

“I believe the public in general would hope it is reserved for such people and it is totally inappropriate for police to be scrutinizing citizens without good cause . . . in the Ireland that I live, it is not satisfactory that the system should be abused in this manner.”

Mr Wilson said he was not selective in the 20 or so Pulse entries he had printed out for the court and he accepted that some of the entries related to years when Mr Bailey was a suspect for the murder or was being sought by the French authorities for extradition to France.

However, he did not accept that the entries were “observations” by gardaí but counted as surveillance on Mr Bailey and his partner, Jules Thomas. “I’ll stand by the contention that, in my view, the level of surveillance was oppressive,” he said.

Chief Supt Tom Hayes said that there is no formal decision process with regards to the gathering and collation of intelligence on a person and gardaí use their own discretion when it comes to noting details such as the car that somebody may be driving or where they are living.

Mr Hayes told Mr Bailey’s counsel Tom Creed SC in direct evidence that there was an ongoing collation of information in relation to Mr Bailey and the decision by the DPP not to prosecute Mr Bailey on the evidence presented to him had “no impact on the collation situation”.

Marie Farrell said she never asked solicitors for eight newspapers being sued by Ian Bailey for defamation to arrange for gardaí to accompany her to a libel hearing at Cork Circuit Court in December 2003.

Ms Farrell said that two solicitors who were meeting a number of witnesses in Schull said that the newspapers had subpoenaed her and told her that once she had been subpoenaed, she would have to attend the trial.

“I can’t remember the exact conversations - they said they had some of my statement and I asked them how they had it and they said that they had the Garda file - they didn’t have it with them but they said they had accessed it,” she said.

Ms Farrell rejected a suggestion from State counsel Paul O’Higgins SC that the solicitors would say she sought gardaí to accompany her to court. It was Det Garda Jim Fitzgerald and Garda Kevin Kelleher who arranged with retired Chief Supt Dermot Dwyer for her to attend court, she said.

“They [the gardaí] knew my statement was false . . . they put me under huge pressure to go to that court . . . they told me that if I didn’t turn up, I would be brought there in handcuffs . . . I didn’t want to go to court and tell lies . . . I pleaded with them not to force me to go court,” she said.

Marie Farrell agreed that she was willing to be interviewed by journalist Michael Sheridan for a story in The Star Sunday in February 15th, 2004 after the libel action but she only agreed to do so at the behest of Det Garda Jim Fitzgerald and she denied receiving €1,500 from the paper for the story.

“I think I got €150,” said Ms Farrell, adding that Det Garda Fitzgerald was anxious to get as much publicity as possible about the case in the wake of the libel action to keep the pressure on Ian Bailey. Ms Farrell said it was Det Garda Fitzgerald who put her in touch with Mr Sheridan.

“They wanted to get as much publicity out there as possible to say that Ian Bailey was dangerous . . . I wouldn’t say I revelled in it but I said I was happy to go along with it for Jim Fitzgerald . . . I can’t explain and I’m just so sorry I did it but I was happy to go along with it,” she said.

Marie Farrell said that it was at the behest of Det Garda Jim Fitzgerald that she made a reference to Ian Bailey describing himself as “a stud”, who had filled several barrels with sperm over the years, during a visit to her shop in 1997, in an article which appeared in The Star Sunday in February 2004.

“It was Jim Fitzgerald who told me to say it because it was in Ian Bailey’s diaries,” said Ms Farrell, who added that she had never seen Mr Bailey’s diaries but that Det Garda Fitzgerald had told her to mention it to Michael Sheridan when she was interviewed by him for The Star Sunday.

Mr O’Higgins SC asked why, if she said it to Mr Sheridan in 2004 at the behest of Det Garda Fitzgerald, she hadn’t mentioned it in the statement in 1997 which she alleged was drawn up by Det Garda Fitzgerald. Ms Farrell said she could not explain that.

Marie Farrell said that she was told by another witness who appeared for the newspapers in Mr Bailey’s libel trial, Ceri Williams, that the newspapers gave €400 to the owner of The Courtyard Bar in Schull to provide drinks for witnesses who testified at the trial.

Counsel for the State Paul O Higgins SC said that the owner of The Courtyard at the time, Denis Quinlan, would say that that never happened and Ms Williams would also say that it was not true.

Marie Farrell said she had no idea that Jules Thomas had told the McAndrew Inquiry in 2006 that a witness, Billy Fuller, was selling Christmas trees outside Ms Farrell’s shop on Main Street, Schull on December 23rd, 1996, at a time when he said he saw Ms Thomas driving near Kealfadda Bridge.

Counsel for the State Paul O’Higgins SC put it to Ms Farrell that Ms Thomas had told the McAndrew Inquiry on February 9th, 2006 that Mr Fuller was “visible from Marie Farrell’s shop” selling Christmas trees at 11 am on that date.

Mr O’Higgins pointed out that Mr Fuller had told gardaí he saw Ms Thomas driving at Kealfadda near Toormore at that time, which contradicted Ms Thomas’s statement to gardaí that neither she nor Mr Bailey left their house that day until after they heard about the murder at 1.40 pm.

A day after Ms Thomas told the McAndrew Inquiry that Mr Fuller was seen selling Christmas trees outside Ms Farrell’s shop on the morning of December 23rd, 1996, Ms Farrell mentioned it in a prepared statement that she submitted to the McAndrew team on February 10th, 2006.

“I don’t know why I mentioned it in 2006 to the McAndrew Inquiry,” said Ms Farrell, who said she had never spoken to Ms Thomas about the matter and never knew that Ms Thomas “wanted somebody to put Billy Fuller away from Kealfadda Bridge on the morning of December 23rd, 1996”.

Mr O’Higgins said that Mr Fuller would testify that he was selling Christmas trees door to door in Toormore on the day in question, which was a Monday, and that he was with a friend who always helped him on Mondays.

Gardaí from the McNally Inquiry team appointed in 2002 to review the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier threatened to frame Marie Farrell’s husband for the murder and say she was covering for him if she did not cooperate with them, Ms Farrell claimed.

Ms Farrell said that a number of officers from the McNally team threatened that they could use fingerprints that they had taken from her husband to frame him for the murder during an interview with her in Bandon Garda Station in May 2002.

“I told him [one of the McNally review team] that I was going to withdraw everything. He said: ‘Go ahead, but remember we have Chris’s fingerprints’- that’s when I began to get really frightened,” said Ms Farrell, adding that she couldn’t remember the exact date of the meeting.

She said that the McNally team had told her husband, in her presence, that they wanted to take his fingerprints to rule out that he had carried out work on Ms Toscan du Plantier’s holiday home at Toormore near where her body was found on December 23rd, 1996.

But counsel for the State Paul O’Higgins SC said that the officers took Mr Farrell’s fingerprints after he handed over a hammer that he had found in a ditch and, because they thought at the time there was a possibility that it was the murder weapon, they needed his fingerprints to eliminate him as a suspect.

“There was no mention of a hammer to me,” said Ms Farrell, adding she couldn’t recall the exact day of the meeting with the McNally team, after Mr O’Higgins pointed out that her last contact with the McNally team was on May 10th, 2002, at which stage Mr Farrell had not given his fingerprints and did not do so until June 4th, 2002.