Sophie Toscan du Plantier, 39, was found beaten to death outside her holiday home in Schull, west Cork, two days before Christmas in 1996.
The investigation into the murder has long been been the subject of controversy with recent claims that Ian Bailey and his partner Jules Thomas were under Garda surveillance up until 2012, with sightings of the couple logged onto the garda Pulse system.
The Sunday Times reported that the logs continued up to a week before the Supreme Court ruled against his extradition in March, 2012.
Another controversy surrounds the allegations made by Mr Bailey’s lawyers about the two investigating [now retired] gardaí who dealt with an acquaintance of Mr Bailey called Martin Graham.
Mr Bailey’s lawyers have alleged that retired Detective Gardaí Tom Fitzgerald and Liam Leahy offered Mr Graham drugs to secure evidence against Mr Bailey.
Both gardaí have denied the claims and no charges have ever been brought against them.
On Sunday, RTÉ reporter John Burke spoke to Colm Ó Mongain of This Week about two statements he obtained from 1997, made by the two gardaí. The statements were made after an allegation that gardaí gave Mr Graham drugs in return for help with the murder investigation emerged.
The allegations that Martin Graham was offered drugs was also discussed in a 2001 report by the Director of Public Prosecutions which was subsequently referred to in the Dáil in July by Independent TD Clare Daly, who said: ‘Gardaí gave hash, cash and cigarettes to a drug taker with criminal convictions in order to obtain incriminating evidence against Ian Bailey.’
RTÉ reported that the DPP’s report, referred to by Clare Daly, was admitted to a Supreme Court appeal.
Mr Justice Murray said the report was dramatic and shocking but that any examination of the report would require evidence and, especially, evidence from anyone adversely affected by it, who wanted to rebut it. Counsel for the State said gardaí would object to its contents.
John Burke: “Martin Graham was an Englishman who ended up living in West Cork by the late 1990s. He lived in rented accommodation in Skibbereen. Ian Bailey was arrested in February, 1997, as part of the Sophie Toscan du Plantier murder inquiry and, after his release, he stayed for a few days in the same rented accommodation as Mr Graham, before returning to his home in Schull. Gardaí later interviewed the occupants of the rented house, including Martin Graham and, arising from this inquiry, detectives Jim Fitzgerald and Liam Leahy, whether individually or collectively, met Mr Graham around 15 times over the following four months.”
Colm O’Mongain: “And why did they meet him? What was the purpose of those meetings?”
Burke: “Well, according to his statement by Detective Garda Fitzgerald, dated June 24, 1997, Martin Graham voluntarily offered to orchestrate further meetings with Ian Bailey and to report back on what Mr Bailey might say about the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier and this involved making trips to Mr Bailey’s home in Schull. It also involved going to festivals and socialising with Ian Bailey. And, if there was a particular event that he thought Mr Bailey might be attending, the ultimate purpose was to get close to Mr Bailey and to engage with him about the murder.”
Ó Mongain: “Now, as mentioned at the outset, it was later claimed that Mr Graham was offered drugs – both gardaí deny this. And neither they, nor any other garda, has faced charges relating to such a claim.”
Burke: “Yes, that’s correct.
Ó Mongain: “So the second of Detective Garda Jim Fitzgerald’s statements deal with his use of the word ‘stuff’ to describe items he’d given to Martin Graham and the word ‘something’ contained in a tobacco pouch. These, the use of these words occurs during taped conversations they had with Martin Graham.”
Burke: “That’s right. Detective Fitzgerald makes a statement to clarify these matters for the garda authorities. In this second statement, he refers to two conversations he had with Martin Graham. In one, he says ‘the stuff’, he makes reference to giving Martin Graham various items of clothing. The ‘something’ Detective Fitzgerald says he refers to, as being in the tobacco pouch given to Martin Graham by him is, according to the statement, 20 pounds in cash which he says another garda saw him put in the pouch on the way to meeting Mr Graham. The statement also gives details of another conversation with Mr Graham in which he used the word “stuff” when asking Mr Graham how drugs were distributed in the West Cork area. Garda Fitzgerald also deals with his use of the term ‘old smokes’ in this second statement. Again, he says, this means different things and different contexts, when talking about the West Cork drug scene with Mr Graham he says ‘old smokes’ mean cannabis. The term ‘old smokes’ is also used to describe loose tobacco, given to Mr Graham, according to the statement.”
Ó Mongain: “And, of course, Gardas Leahy and Fitzgerald both deny that either of these meant that drugs had been given to Mr Graham as we said at the outset. No garda has ever been charged in connection with such allegations. Now, leaving that issue aside, both gardaí go in to some detail in their statements regarding sums of money which were given to Mr Graham.”
Burke: “Yes, Detective Garda Fitzgerald says in one statement that between February and April of 1997, they had given Mr Graham, what he described as small monetary expenses as requested by him in the event of he socialising with Mr Bailey. Detective Fitzgerald recounted how he had met Mr Graham on the 11th of May. Mr Graham had said he would be attending the Fiddlers’ Fair in Baltimore over the following week and he would be meeting Ian Bailey there. Martin Graham asked him for money to cover his expenses, if he met Mr Bailey and the detective gave him the money. Mr Fitzgerald said he had also given Martin Graham cigarettes and tobacco and he said he was aware and was present when Detective Garda Leahy gave Mr Graham clothes.”
Ó Mongain: “That was then Detective Fitzgerald’s statement on monies given to Mr Graham. What were Detective Garda Leahy’s recollections?”
Burke: “Garda Leahy remarked that on the 30th of March, 1997, there was another festival in Kilcrohane and it was felt that Ian Bailey would be at this event. Of this, Detective Garda Leahy said:
‘Graham agreed that he would go there. It was a two-fold purpose: one to enjoy himself and, secondly, he may meet Bailey. I dropped him to Kilcrohane and, as he had very little funds, I gave him 30 pounds to tide him over. I previously gave him money to compensate him for his time and efforts.’
Ó Mongain: “Other than giving Martin Graham money to socialise with Mr Bailey, what other items did Detective Gardaí Fitzgerald and Leahy say they provided to him?”
Burke: “In a handwritten statement on October the 20th, 1997, Detective Garda Liam Leahy said he bought clothes for Martin Graham at Kevin Bohan’s General Drapery Store in Bandon – two shirts, one jeans, one sweatshirt, one pair of socks, to the value of IR£64.95. He explained in the statement that he felt bad for Mr Graham as he thought he had only one set of clothing. Now that’s perhaps an unusual level of detail to include in a Garda statement but Liam Leahy said that the waist of the jeans that he bought for Martin Graham was too wide and so he personally went back to the drapery store and changed them for a smaller pair. Detective Garda Leahy said he got a receipt for the clothes which he bought for Mr Graham. He said he submitted this receipt to his superior and was fully reimbursed.”
Ó Mongain: “Now what other level of interaction did Mr Graham have as part of providing assistance to the investigation?”
Burke: “The two detectives also took Mr Graham on a tour of the scene where the murder took place, at Martin Graham’s request. He wanted to be familiar with the area if he ended up speaking to Mr Bailey about the murder.”
Ó Mongain: “So, four months after first interacting with Martin Graham, both detectives were giving formal statements regarding this engagement. Why was this?”
Burke: “Well, in or around May of that year, Detective Garda Fitzgerald said that he learned that an allegation had been made, that gardaí gave drugs to Martin Graham, in return for assistance in the murder probe. In terms of why these statements were made, we know that at least two of the statements, which both the detective gardaí made between June and October 1997, were in direct response to queries from their superior officers, in relation to how they interacted with Martin Graham.”
Ó Mongain: “Ian Bailey is taking legal action against the State and part of that claim involves an allegation that Detectives Fitzgerald and Leahy offered drugs and cash to Mr Graham, among other claims of alleged garda misconduct. Gardaí have denied these claims. You’ve contacted both retired gardaí, seeking comment on the content of their original statements.”
Burke: “Yes, I contacted both Mr Leahy and Mr Fitzgerald. They said they had no comment to make on any aspect of the allegations. Mr Graham is believed to be no longer living in Ireland and was last known to have lived in Cornwall around 2006. He could not be contacted for comment.”