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Sophie Toscan Du Plantier: Witness told by police that Ian Bailey was killer

Ian Bailey arrives at the Four Courts in Dublin Image copyright PA
Image caption Ian Bailey is suing the Irish state for wrongful arrest

A witness has told Dublin High Court police told her they knew Ian Bailey had killed Sophie Toscan Du Plantier.

Mr Bailey, a former journalist from Manchester who moved to Ireland 23 years ago, denies any involvement in the killing and was never charged.

He is suing the state for wrongful arrest during the investigation.

Witness Marie Farrell said police told her they needed her to identify Mr Bailey as a man she had seen on key dates around the murder.

Ms Toscan Du Plantier, a 39-year-old film producer, was found beaten to death on a hillside near her remote holiday home in west Cork on 23 December 1996.

'Howl at the moon'

Ms Farrell said: "The gardaí [police] said it would be a great help because they were putting away a very dangerous person and a very weird person.

"They were telling me he was into all sorts of weird things; that he would howl at the moon and that he would sit on a rocking chair on the beach during the full moon and 10 lesbians would dance around him."

Ms Farrell said she was shown a video of Mr Bailey and told police he was not the man she had seen.

However, she said police told her they needed her to place Mr Bailey near the scene because they knew he had done it and that he would kill again.

Ms Farrell said she was assured there would never be a court case and she would only have to give a two-line statement.

She said she decided to just give the police what they wanted.

She said an officer also promised her that a prosecution against her husband over car insurance would be "sorted out".

Ms Farrell told the High Court she signed her name on up to eight blank pieces of paper at a Cork Garda Station in February 1997.

The statement identified Mr Bailey as the man Mrs Farrell saw.

She said she had not made it and the man was not Mr Bailey.

She also said she had not made other statements also identifying Mr Bailey and the first time she saw them and other memos and questionnaires purporting to be a record of what she said was during an internal police inquiry into the handling of the case in 2006.

When news of Ian Bailey's arrest reached her she said she thought: "I hope it's not because I said it was him I saw at Cealfada bridge. I hope it was because of something else because people were convinced he was going to kill again, because the guards [police] were telling everyone he was going to kill again."

'Hash smoker'

Ms Farrell said that a detective told her in May 1997 that police had been in contact with a man who "used to smoke a bit of hash" with Mr Bailey.

She said the detective told her they were sending the man to Mr Bailey's house with some hash to try to get Mr Bailey high and get him to confess to the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier.

She said poitín [an illegally distilled whiskey] was also mentioned and they were going to get him drunk.

Ms Farrell said at the end of May, she got a phone call from the detective who was crying on the phone.

She said the detective said he had been double crossed by the man and his career was finished because there was going to be a story in a newspaper.

However, she said the detective later told her things had settled down.

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