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Bruised eyes, torn hair and beatings: Ian Bailey's domestic violence laid bare in packed courtroom

Bailey is suing the State for wrongful arrest.

Bailey has admitted he has been abusive towards Jules Thomas.
Bailey has admitted he has been abusive towards Jules Thomas.
Image: Leah Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Updated 6.05 pm

IAN BAILEY HAS described his “eternal shame” at the domestic violence he inflicted upon his partner and refused in court to describe her injuries.

Bailey described to a packed courtroom this morning a number of times he had beaten his current partner Jules Thomas, leaving her with injuries which required her to be hospitalised.

He was speaking for the fifth day as part of his civil action against An Garda Síochána, the Minister for Justice and the Attorney General.

Luan Ó Braonáin SC for the State produced photographs of her injuries to the court from one such attack in 1996 and asked Bailey to describe the photographs, but he refused.

“What I see in the photographs is shameful and I’m not going to describe the photographs,” he said.

Ó Braonáin instead described the injuries visible in the photographs which included Thomas’s eye which was bruised to the extent that it was closed over.

A patch of her hair, described in court as being about 4cm wide, was also pulled from her head.

“This happened in a car when we both had drink [taken] and actually she grabbed me and I tried to push her away. It was shameful,” said Bailey.

Asked whether he was therefore attributing some blame to Thomas, Bailey replied:”That’s how it started,” acknowledging that he had struck her with both hands.

During the course of the tense back and forth, Bailey made comparisons between the violence he inflicted upon his partner and the harsh and unlawful treatment he is alleging he faced from An Garda Síochána.

“Until I die I will be ashamed by that,” he said.

“But by putting me into a box and trying to brand me, I’m not trying to minimise it, but what subsequently happened to me, it pales in the scales…”

On this point, Bailey said that he does not believe his history of violence towards Thomas made him a suspect in the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, claiming that there were no documents to support this.

Pushed on whether his “serious history of violence towards women” caused him to become a suspect, he admitted, “Well, it could be, it could be.”

Asked also if his violence was widely known in the town, Bailey said it was. He denied, however, that this alone led to him being shunned by the community:

“Unfortunately, as we know, domestic violence is very commonplace and in the area there are many cases of domestic violence. I wasn’t the only person in West Cork who was guilty of domestic violence when drink was taken.”

Bailey said that his violence was usually associated with alcohol, particularly when he consumed “some spirits” told the court that “it has now been cured”.

Heat of the moment

Bailey was also asked about another instance of domestic violence he perpetrated on Thomas five years later, when he beat her with a crutch.

“I never set out to strike her with a crutch, ” he said. “It wasn’t planned, it wasn’t premeditated. It was just something that happened in the heat of the moment.”

Bailey said that he has never shied away from his violence, insisting that he wanted to tell the jury about it but was advised not to do so by his legal team.

“I knew that this was going to happening as it did in the libel case. I knew exactly what you were going to do,” he said addressing the counsel cross-examining him.

The murder

It was put to Bailey that he had provided gardaí with inconsistent statements about knowing the victim’s nationality when he was sent by a newspaper to the crime scene.

He replied that, at that point, he had no knowledge of her name but he was aware that a French woman lived in the area.

He flatly rejected a claim that will be made by a neighbour that he introduced Bailey to Du Plantier.  ”No, absolutely not,” Bailey replied to Ó Braonáin.

The former journalist was also questioned intently on the reporting he did for a number of national newspapers in the weeks following the murder.

For example, three days after the murder Bailey wrote an article for The Star newspaper under his Irish pen name, Eoin Bailey.

He told the High Court that most of the content in the article came from information that was “in common circulation in the area”.

“I did try to get information from gardaí but I found that they were strangely unhelpful,” he said.

Two days later, another article appeared written by Bailey under the headline: Film maker’s tangled love life sparks new mystery.

The article claimed that Du Plantier would have frequent male visitors to her house, a property described as a “lovenest”.

The article also suggested that gardaí were looking into the possibility that a male friend had recently travelled from France to Du Plantier’s home in West Cork.

Bailey told the High Court that “journalists do not normally reveals sources but this is and unusual case” he so would do so.

He therefore told the court that it was Du Plantier’s neighbour Alf Lyons who told him about her male visitors.

The village of Schull The village of Schull in West Cork in the area where du Plantier was murdered. Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

It was put to Bailey that the assertion that gardaí were looking for a man who travelled from France “pointed the finger” away from the locality.

Bailey agreed that it did, but said that piece of information did not come from him and must’ve been included by someone else as part of the editorial process.

“I’m not actually sure that was part of my story,” Bailey said. “I think you’ll find that part of the story was written by me and part by someone else.”

Bailey also acknowledge that he wrote several articles for the Sunday Tribune after the murder. One of which was published on 5 January 1997, after he had been visited a number of times by gardaí and had provided a hair sample.

He acknowledged that, even at this stage, he did not tell the Sunday Tribune that he was a suspect:

“There were a number of suspects…There was six individuals being referred to in the media as being suspects…I was of the belief that me and Jules were two of the suspects.”

Bailey is suing the State as he claims he was wrongly arrested in relation to the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier in 1996.

Read: Ian Bailey: ‘Vigilantes put a rat in my letterbox and I felt hunted like an animal’ >

Read: Ian Bailey describes moment when garda ‘Cracker’ “scrutinised” him in local shop >

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About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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