Belfast Telegraph

Bailey denies saying he was killer

A former journalist who claims detectives tried to frame him for the unsolved murder of a French film-maker has denied telling a man in a pub he was the killer.

Ian Bailey, who was twice arrested over the brutal death of Sophie Toscan du Plantier two days before Christmas 1996, also denied smirking after the alleged admission.

The High Court in Dublin, where the 57-year-old is suing the State, heard detail of a statement from a Northern Ireland man about the encounter - just over three months after the producer's murder.

James McKenna told gardai he was with his wife in the Galley Inn in Schull, west Cork, in April 1997 when Mr Bailey admitted the killing in a "deliberate voice" and said "that was me".

"I could see he was smirking and I could see he was content that he was able to brag," the court heard Mr McKenna told detectives.

Luan O'Braonain, senior counsel for the State, continued to read from Mr McKenna's garda statement which claimed Mr Bailey also said he was a journalist with the then Cork Examiner during the conversation.

The court heard there were about a dozen customers in the bar at the time and that Mr McKenna could not bring himself to finish his second pint after hearing the admission.

During his eighth day of evidence, Mr Bailey said he has always denied saying he was the killer and described it as an "alleged informal admission".

He told the court Mr McKenna's statement was a boost to the murder investigation at the time.

"Yes. It was of great significance and quite a little bonus to the gardai," he said.

The court also heard Mr Bailey left the Galley Inn before the McKennas and afterwards a barmaid came from behind the counter to tell them "he was the person who killed the girl".

Also during proceedings, Mr Bailey was warned over the manner of his evidence to the jury after he claimed there were matters he could not refer to and he was "David taking on Goliath with his arm tied behind his back".

Judge John Hedigan told him to stop referring to classified reviews of the investigation into Mme Toscan du Plantier's murder.

Mr Bailey was told some of the information was prejudicial to his case and some to the State's defence.

"Let's cut out referring to this as though there's some kind of secret document in the background somewhere - there isn't," Judge Hedigan said.

The court was told one document is from an internal review carried out into the Toscan du Plantier murder inquiry by the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The second was background information which formed the basis for the European Arrest Warrant application made by French authorities in Dublin in 2010.

Judge Hedigan warned the documents were assessments of the investigation but the only relevant assessment was the one to be made by the eight men and four women on the jury.

Mme Toscan du Plantier, 39, was found beaten to death on a hillside near her remote holiday home in Toormore on the morning of Monday December 23 1996 - two days before Christmas.

Mr Bailey, a former reporter born in Manchester who lived and worked in the Cheltenham area before moving to Ireland more than 23 years ago, was arrested twice - February 10 1997 and again in January 1998.

Almost 20 years on from the killing of Mme Toscan du Plantier, Mr Bailey is suing the Garda Commissioner, the Minister for Justice and the Attorney General for wrongful arrest and a series of other alleged failings in the murder investigation.

The State denies all claims.

The hearing is set to run for several more weeks.

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