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

Bailey says gardaí told him they planned to pin the murder on him.

Updated 3.45 pm

IAN BAILEY HAS claimed that a “dreadful, rotten, stinking lie” about his involvement in the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier began circulating in the month after her body was discovered.

Giving evidence for the second day as part of the his wrongful arrest case against the State, Bailey says that a “false fact rumour machine” operates in the West Cork area whereby “a rumour can become fact in a short period of time”.

Bailey outlined that several rumours about him were circulating in the area after the murder of the French filmmaker in Schull, Co Cork.

He said that one of the rumours being spread was that he was seen washing his boots at a stream near Kealfadda bridge on the night Du Plantier was killed. This, he said, was an “absolute lie”.

Kealfadda bridge is located approximately 6km from where Du Plantier’s body was found.

Bailey also claimed that, after being arrested for the first time, he was told by a garda driving him to the station that:

Even if we don’t pin this on you, you’re finished in Ireland. You’ll be found dead in a ditch with a bullet in the back of your head.”

Bailey says that he interpreted this as a death threat and is something that “still haunts me to this day”.

Bailey told the jury that he first became aware of the death of Du Plantier when he was approached by an editor from the Southern Star newspaper to investigate the ‘suspicious death of a woman’.

In the weeks following the murder, Bailey says he was visited by a garda superintendent who questioned him about the murder. Bailey said that the detective “seemed to be very interested in my background:

“He asked me did I play poker and when I said that I didn’t, he said, ‘Well you should’.”

Bailey alleges that, upon leaving his house, the detective accused him of ‘knowing more about this murder’.

Speaking about the occasion of his first arrest, Bailey told the court that, while being taken to the station, the atmosphere was “very hostile and aggressive”.

He says he was prodded in the arm three times by a garda on the way who said that he should “get your act together”.

He claims that gardaí told him that they had a witness placing him at Kealfadda bridge on the night of the killing.

He says he was twice told he would be placed in an identity parade but that this never materialised.

Bailey also says that gardaí told him that his partner Jules Thomas “had accepted” that he carried out the murder.

Under questioning from his counsel Martin Giblin SC, Bailey says that gardaí also told him that there was “a lynch mob waiting for him in Schull” and that:

The greatest tragedy about this is that you don’t even remember how you did it.”
‘Self-confessed prime subject’

Bailey also detailed his treatment by the media following his arrest and described seeing his name and photograph in national newspapers following his arrest.

“It all seemed very unreal, surreal perhaps. Shocking,” he said. “My name was out there.”

He said that when he arrived back at his home following his arrest his house was “pretty well occupied with vehicles and various members of the press”.  ”It was clear that the cottage was under media siege,” he said.

Bailey said that in 1997, the year following the murder, he “didn’t go out a lot” and felt “cut off”.

He said that the media began repeatedly referring to him as the “self confessed prime suspect”, a categorisation he says he rejects completely.

‘I’m a journalist and a media man an I know that the media doesn’t necessarily have a concious,” he said. “I felt like I was being eaten alive,” he added.

Bailey told the court that as a result of their arrest and detention himself and his partner Jules Thomas lost all of their friends and he had contemplated suicide.

“I was overcome by a deep sense of despair and hopelessness,” he said.

Bailey alleges that he was unfairly targeted as a suspect in the murder investigation. He is suing An Garda Síochána, the Minister for Justice and the Attorney General for damages.

 Read: Ian Bailey jury warned not to ‘engage in any research on the internet’ >

Read: Ian Bailey’s wrongful arrest case against An Garda Síochana is edging closer >