Belfast Telegraph

Bailey 'quit drink over conviction'

A former journalist quit drinking in three months of AA meetings after being convicted of beating up his artist partner, a court has heard.

Ian Bailey told his High Court damages action over the Garda inquiry into the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier that he drank to cope with being a suspect in the case.

Bailey, 57, who also admitted smoking cannabis up to six times a day at one stage in the mid-1990s, said he sorted his drink problems at 120 meetings over 90 days in late 2001.

Mr Bailey told the jury in his lawsuit for wrongful arrest that he used alcohol in an attempt to deal with the early stages of the murder inquiry.

"I realised that I was using alcohol to try and blot out the awful reality - as we know that's no good. It doesn't work. Anyway, I have addressed the issue," he told the court.

An emotional Mr Bailey said he went to AA in Skibbereen after his conviction for assaulting partner Jules Thomas in 2001 - more than three years on from his second arrest.

After nine days in the witness box, Mr Bailey's evidence concluded with Ms Thomas beginning her evidence by outlining her background and why she moved to west Cork from Wales in the 1970s.

The jury of eight men and four women heard Thomas, 65, was arrested twice for the murder of Mme Toscan du Plantier, on February 10 1997 and September 22 2000.

Earlier, Mr Bailey, who lives with Ms Thomas at the Prairie Cottage, Liscaha, Schull, was shown a selection of his personal writings and he admitted they showed his concerns that people in west Cork looked on him as a "foolish bowsie" because of his drinking.

During a heated exchange under cross examination on the material, Mr Bailey hit out at his documents being revealed to the court.

"I'm unhappy that my private writings are being used against me," he told the court in a heated exchange.

"It relates to absolute intrusion of privacy - absolute intrusion of my personal thoughts and writings."

Mr Bailey said the selected documents were being produced "like a rabbit out of a hat".

He told the court some of the notes were ramblings and documented his own disgust and self loathing at the way his life had turned out after he left the UK and in the years before Mme Toscan du Plantier's murder.

Mr Bailey admitted smoking marijuana while writing poetry and was challenged about a note from October 1992 where he criticised his own drug habit of four to six joints a day and mentioned wishing to go to Jamaica.

"They would have been very, very small Js (joints). They would have been tiny, little things. Very small," he told the court.

Mr Bailey said he has not had the habit for many years.

The former reporter drew laughter from the courtroom when he was pressed on his drug use.

"I did used to smoke occasional marijuana joints. It was not uncommon in west Cork, as members of the legal profession used to drive down and road test," Mr Bailey said.

A series of other writings were also outlined to the jury of eight men and four women.

Mr Bailey remarked how one compared the fruits of his flowering garden to a "young girl entering maidenhood".

Another recalled how he was picked for a part in a play called A Brush with a Body in the village hall in Schull in 1994 because of his English accent.

His own notes remarked on the concerns his fellow actors had for him after he turned up to one show after drinking during the day.

Another note recalled a confrontation one New Year's Eve in the Courtyard Inn in Schull when Mr Bailey wrote "I swung a blow at a boy who was bothering me".

Mr Bailey denied striking the boy and said he had tried to "shoo" him away.

The court also heard of one note which said that Mr Bailey had debts of about £30-40,000 in 1989.

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 - in 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.

At the opening of her evidence, Ms Thomas confirmed to the court that she is also suing the State over her arrest and treatment during the murder inquiry.

Ms Thomas said her civil action in the High Court is due to begin when her partner's case concludes.


From Belfast Telegraph