Bailey solicitor concerned over missing file in du Plantier case

Garda document identifying suspect in the investigation cannot be found

Ian Bailey: taking a civil action against the State for wrongful arrest. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

Ian Bailey: taking a civil action against the State for wrongful arrest. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh


Ian Bailey

expressed surprise that an important document in the Garda investigation into the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier has gone missing.

Mr Bailey is seeking a range of documents in his civil action against the State for damages.

Frank Buttimer said he found it surprising that a file from the murder investigation identifying Mr Bailey as a suspect in the death of the French film producer cannot be found. The 39-year-old mother of one was killed at her holiday home at Toormore near Schull in west Cork, in December 1996.

“It is a cause for concern because we don’t know what it contains and we believe we are entitled to access the information for Mr Bailey’s action for damages for wrongful arrest by the State,” Mr Buttimer told The Irish Times.

Highly unusual
“As a general point, gardaí don’t lose records in murder cases or other such serious crimes – files in such cases just don’t get lost, especially in a case where the file remains open,” he said.

“It strikes me as highly unusual that what might be considered evidential material would apparently go missing.”

Mr Buttimer confirmed he had also been informed some 24 original witness statements from the murder file had gone missing, though typed copies are available for disclosure to Mr Bailey’s legal team.

He also confirmed details revealed by RTÉ’s This Week programme on Radio One that Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan is seeking privilege over 128 files, comprising 2,898 pages, which are being sought by Mr Bailey.

Mr Callinan has submitted a 30-page list of documents relating to the murder investigation and a 10-page list of documents over which he is seeking privilege, including a report by Assistant Commissioner Ray McAndrew into the Garda handing of the investigation.

The 375-page report was ordered by then commissioner Noel Conroy after Mr Buttimer made a complaint on behalf of Mr Bailey in 2005 when a key witness, Marie Farrell, retracted an incriminating statement which she alleged she had been coerced into making.

Mr Callinan is also seeking privilege over other internal Garda reports, including three prepared by Chief Supt Tom Hayes, one of which runs to 147 pages and deals with issues raised in a 2001 review of the Garda file by solicitor Robert Sheehan of the DPP’s office.

Among the other documents over which Mr Callinan is seeking privilege are two further reports by Chief Supt Hayes, one looking into allegations that gardaí supplied a man with cannabis in a bid to obtain information about Mr Bailey and another investigating how gardaí dealt with Ms Farrell.

Mr Bailey, of the Prairie, Liscaha, Schull, Co Cork, was twice arrested for questioning about the killing of Ms Toscan du Plantier but has always denied any involvement in her death.

The Garda press office issued a statement that Mr Callinan was entitled, as was any defendant in a civil case, to assert privilege and seek legal advice in respect of all aspects of the case being brought by Mr Bailey and his partner, Jules Thomas, for wrongful arrest.

DPP decision
The Garda statement added that the Commissioner accepted the DPP decision not to prosecute Mr Bailey, but said “the current litigation surrounds the standard of proof necessary to effect an arrest which is distinct from that which is required to prosecute”.