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Bailey faces legal bill of millions


Ian Bailey arrives at the High Court for his continuing lawsuit against the state for the Garda's handling of the investigation into the murder of French film-maker Sophie Toscan du Plantier

Ian Bailey arrives at the High Court for his continuing lawsuit against the state for the Garda's handling of the investigation into the murder of French film-maker Sophie Toscan du Plantier

Ian Bailey arrives at the High Court for his continuing lawsuit against the state for the Garda's handling of the investigation into the murder of French film-maker Sophie Toscan du Plantier

Former journalist Ian Bailey is facing a monumental legal bill after losing a marathon lawsuit against the Irish state over the investigation into the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier.

The law graduate, who admitted during the case to beating his partner three times but denies any involvement in the French film-maker's unsolved killing, is expected to be hit with millions in costs after a jury found no conspiracy in the case.

The 58-year-old, who moved to Ireland from Cheltenham in the mid-90s, sued the Irish authorities over the handling of the murder probe into the brutal killing two days before Christmas 1996.

Ms Toscan du Plantier was battered to death outside her holiday home at Toormore, near Schull in west Cork.

Mr Bailey was arrested twice in connection with the murder - February 1997 and January 1998 - but never charged.

He showed little emotion as the jury delivered the verdicts in the High Court after little more than two hours of deliberation and following 64 days of hearings.

As the defeat sank in, he put his arm around artist partner Jules Thomas, who during the case he admitted beating, before speaking quietly and calmly to his lawyers.

Outside court 24 at the Four Courts, Mr Bailey's solicitor Frank Buttimer said his client would need time to evaluate the crippling defeat.

"He is obviously very disappointed with the outcome. He gave this case his very best effort," the lawyer said.

"He thought and does in fact still think that he had sufficient evidence to sway the jury in his favour. However he has a deep and abiding respect for the Irish legal system.

"He appreciates the fact that the jury gave this case the attention that it did give the case, that is to be acknowledged.

"The result is disappointing."

Mr Bailey had alleged gardai tried to frame him for killing Mme Toscan du Plantier.

But the fallout from the case was not limited to the exposure of Mr Bailey's domestic violence, cannabis use and heavy drinking when he moved to Ireland or assessments by law officers that gardai botched the investigation.

As part of disclosures it emerged that phonecalls at Garda stations up and down the country were recorded for years without the public's knowledge, or that of some officers, including Bandon - the murder probe HQ.

The controversy was one of a series to beset the Garda force at the time and the then commissioner Martin Callinan retired in the aftermath while the practice and the circumstances around his departure are being examined by a former Supreme Court judge.

The courtroom defeat is the second Mr Bailey has suffered after he lost libel actions in 2003 against several newspapers over their reporting of the murder investigation and naming him as a suspect.

On this occasion the jury were asked to examine two key conspiracy claims which they rejected.

One was whether three gardai - Detective Jim Fitzgerald, Garda Kevin Kelleher and Detective Jim Slattery - conspired to implicate Mr Bailey in the murder of Ms du Plantier by coercing witness Marie Farrell using threats, inducements or intimidation to make a statement placing Mr Bailey at Kealfadda Bridge, near where the murder took place.

The second is whether there was a conspiracy by detectives Mr Fitzgerald and Maurice Walsh to get false statements from Ms Farrell that Mr Bailey intimidated her.

Mr Bailey's major claim of wrongful arrest was ruled out by the judge last week who declared it statute barred due to the passage of time.

Costs are to be determined at a later date but are expected to run to several million.

Ms Toscan du Plantier was married to the late Daniel Toscan du Plantier, a major player in French cinema who had close contacts with the upper echelons of government in Paris.

The court heard two murder probes remain open, in Ireland, and in France where authorities can launch an investigation if a citizen dies overseas.

Judge John Hedigan paid tribute to Ms du Plantier after the verdicts were delivered, describing her as a beloved mother, wife and daughter.

"Throughout this case there has always been the shadow of the late Sophie Toscan du Plantier and her tragic and senseless death," he told the court.

"It's a source of dismay and anguish in Ireland and France that her cruel killer has not been brought to justice."

Judge Hedigan added that he did not want anyone to think Ms Toscan du Plantier's life had been forgotten during the five months of hearings.

He also told the court he would send a transcript of evidence given by Schull shopkeeper Marie Farrell on Mr Bailey's behalf to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

She originally made a statement to that she saw a man at Kealfadda Bridge, near the crime scene, around 3am on the night that Ms Toscan du Plantier was murdered and that she later discovered it was Ian Bailey.

Ms Farrell contacted Mr Bailey's legal team in 2005 alleging that she was coerced into making the statement and sought to retract it.

In evidence to support his claim Mr Bailey claimed he was targeted in part because he was English, and that he had received a death threat from a garda when he was first arrested.

He also said he felt suicidal after becoming the prime suspect in the killing and that along with Ms Thomas, who was originally from Wales, they became pariahs in the west Cork area.

Mr Bailey also claimed he was unable to attend his mother Brenda's funeral in 2010 after she died aged 87 for fear of being arrested under a European Arrest Warrant in the UK.

In evidence he admitted that he had beaten Ms Thomas three times, which he said was to his eternal shame.

In August 2001, he battered the artist across the face, body and limbs with a crutch after Ms Thomas woke him from a nap, while in 1996 he pulled her hair out, left her with a black eye, in need of stitches inside her mouth after a row on the way home from a pub, and in 1993 he attacked her after waking with a nosebleed.

Mr Bailey was born in Manchester and moved to Gloucestershire when he was nine and embarked on a career as a freelance journalist in Cheltenham in the 1980s.

He walked away from the media business in 1991 after becoming disillusioned and claiming he wanted to get out of the rat race. He moved to Ireland, settling briefly in Waterford to work scaring crows on a farm and then to west Cork and a fish factory.