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Dublin: 14°C Sunday 20 September 2020

Ian Bailey: 'Vigilantes put a rat in my letterbox and I felt hunted like an animal'

Bailey also said the European Arrest Warrant in his name meant he could not attend his mother’s funeral.

Image: Gérard Courant via YouTube

FORMER JOURNALIST IAN Bailey has said that his legal action against the State is designed to “clear his name”.

Bailey was speaking in the High Court on the third day of his proceedings against the State. Bailey claims he was wrongly arrested in relation to the murder of French woman Sophie Toscan du Plantier in 1996.

Asked why he had taken the case, Bailey said that he wanted to prove he was not involved in her death.

“I brought this case to prove once and for all that he had nothing to do with [the murder].

“They’re the only proceedings that I can bring to seek compensation for the wrongs that have been done to me. I just hope this settles them.”

He said that he wanted to “knock out this dirty, rotten lie that has been perpetuated by members of An Garda Siochana”.

He said that he took no pleasure in taking the case, saying it is “no walk in the Phoenix Park”.

Bailey has previously taken seven libel actions, winning two, and says that after one win, his house was approached by “vigilantes”.

Our house was subject to vigilantes, one night, a group of around eight men with torches were calling for me to go out to them.

“There were other incidents, paint sprayed on walls, a rat being dropped in the letter box.”


Bailey said that his sleep has been affected since his 1996 arrest.

“I never had a problem sleeping until my first arrest. During 1997, I’d get two or three hours sleep a night.

I had a recurrent dream of being hunted like an animal.

He said that his first arrest had transformed him from outgoing and “extremely sociable” into someone who was, along with his partner, isolated.

“We were isolated, we were cut off, we lost friends, it has been hard to trust people.

I experienced a deep sense of despair. It wasn’t internal. It was caused by external pressures. My mind was very, very troubled.

“I felt an absolute sense of senselessness about what was going on. For many years, I was resentful of what was being done to me.”

“Urine and shit”

He described being put in a cell “that wasn’t fit for a dog”.

Under questioning from his counsel Martin Giblin SC, Bailey described how he was studying for his final law exams at his home in west Cork when “six or seven” gardaí came to arrest him.

“We (Bailey and his partner Jules Thomas) were at home, I was studying at around 11.55pm when we heard a noise outside.

“We heard a car and when I looked outside and saw men coming towards the house.”

He said that he was taken to Bandon Garda Station and held overnight.

I thought the arrest was very heavy handed. They knocked on the front door, but it doesn’t open, so I sent them around the back.

“My initial reaction was a recollection of the death threat.”

In the morning he claims that he was brought to Dublin in an unmarked squad car, with gardaí putting on their blue lights to move quickly through traffic.

When they got to Mountjoy Garda Station, Bailey was put in a cell.

“I was taken into Mountjoy and put in a cell you wouldn’t put a dog in. I thought it was an open sewer.

After 29 minutes, they brought me a sandwich I couldn’t eat because of the smell of urine and shit.

“I called the guard and told him the cell wasn’t fit for an animal. He said it was one of their best.”

Bailey had been arrested, and would face a court hearing that day, on foot of the issuing of a European Arrest Warrant, which sought Bailey’s extradition to France.

Though his extradition was initially granted, Bailey appealed that decision, with the Supreme Court ruling in his favour.

Mother’s death

Bailey told Justice John Hedigan’s court that because of the arrest warrant, he was unable to leave Ireland, which made him feel “like a prisoner”.

I wasn’t able to visit my mother before she died or go to the funeral. That is the cruelest abuse of this whole thing.


Bailey said that the prospect of being extradited made him fearful.

“I was scared, I had a great sense of trepidation and fear.”

He said that he felt that the French police were using information from the gardaí, which he felt was “sinister”.

“It was sinister for me that this information had been handed over to the French authorities who were using it to legitimise an arrest warrant.”

He said there was “no investigation in France” and that his partner had been forced to answer questions for seven hours by video link.

He says that he hopes some day to have the arrest warrant removed.

He also revealed that he chose not to pursue the Du Plantier family for costs after their failed civil action against him “because they were victims, too”.

Law studies

In 2007, Bailey was admitted to UCC, where he studied law as an undergraduate for three years and two years as a post-graduate.

His return to education was the subject of a story that year in the Sunday Independent. Bailey says that this shows he was not in hiding and gardaú could have contacted him easily.

He said that he felt the arrest, which came two weeks before he commenced his final exams, was timed to interfere with his studies.

“I felt it was an act of tyranny, an effort to discombobulate me.”

He said he had “chosen not to take a flight but to stay and fight for nearly two decades”.

The case continues.

Originally published 16:15.

‘You’ll be found dead in a ditch’: Ian Bailey tells court he is ‘haunted by garda threat’

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