It’s the sort of radio snippet that stops you in your tracks
… Bailey sat in a rocking chair on Barleycove beach with ten lesbians dancing around him
No matter what you’re doing, that’s the sort of ear-worm that slithers its way deep inside your otherwise inattentive cochlea and demands your full attention, but it’s too late, because they’ve moved on to other insanity like Catholic bishops puffing about same-sex marriage, and you have to wait for the next bulletin to find out if you imagined it.
It’s the Ian Bailey case, of course, in which a British journalist is suing the Garda Commissioner and the State for wrongful arrest among other things. Bailey claims that Gardai in West Cork conspired to frame him for the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier in 1996.
The evidence has become increasingly bizarre as the case proceeded, with Bailey making accusations bordering on the paranoid, including the claim that the Gardai sent him a coded message by giving him fresh clothing on the night of his arrest. The trousers were black and the top was brown, which led him to conclude that they were calling him a Black and Tan — a clear insult to an Englishman living in West Cork, as he saw it.
Other evidence has emerged of a violent man, a thug and a bully with a history of beating women and of hiding behind the excuse of alcohol. A man who would attract little public sympathy.
Ian Bailey is not a likeable character but, until a jury says otherwise, he’s not a murderer. It’s that simple, we’d do well to remember it as long as we value our democracy.
But perhaps Bailey was a very convenient face for the Gardai who, as we know, are not above a little massaging of the facts when it suits them. All we need to do is look at the Frank Shortt case in Donegal, or the McBrearty case among many others, if we doubt the ability of our finest to contrive a case out of nothing.
Marie Farrell, a local woman, gave evidence yesterday of having seen a man at the bridge near where Sophie Toscan du Plantier was murdered. According to Ms Farrell, Gardai told her they knew it was Ian Bailey. They knew he was the killer and they wanted Marie Farrell to place him at the scene, even though the man she saw looked nothing like Bailey.
That was when the Monty Python team briefly took over the scriptwriting duties. According to Ms Farrell, Gardai told her Bailey was dangerous and strange. They said he used to howl at the moon. He sat in a rocking chair on a beach with ten lesbians dancing around him.
Most bizarrely, she believed them, but what exactly was going on in the mind of a policeman who made up a story like that? Was he projecting his own personal fantasies? Was he drunk? Was he out of his face on drugs?
All of the above? If so, he strikes me as a limited sort of man if this was the best fantasy he could come up with. And besides, what did he think was so disordered about that kind of carry-on?
What did he think Bailey did?
Hello, is that West–Cork rent-a-lezzer? Right. Look, could you send a rocking chair to Barleycove beach and ten dancing lesbians?
No. Ten. Not twelve. Ten will be fine.
Yeah. All lesbians That’s fine.
What? No, I don’t want a straight one. They have to be unattainable, y’know?
Butch? Jesus no!
What? Non-butch surcharge? How much?
What? That’s fucking robbery!
Oh all right. All right. Just send ’em up at midnight and make sure they can dance, ok? And throw in one butch one in case I feel like getting kicked around a bit. Thanks.
I was friendly with a Guard years ago who took great delight in telling us what they did when they raided suspect’s home. If they found nothing, they planted some vile pornography under his bed and waited for his wife to find it. He seemed to think that was standard investigative procedure.
The poor old Guards, as everyone now knows, are in severe need of reconstruction, and therefore, it’s not at all unlikely that they engaged in this sort of shitehawkery, but the reality is that they failed to secure a conviction in this case, despite all manner of irregularities including smearing a man’s character and intimidating witnesses
It’s likely at this point that we will never know who killed Sophie Toscan du Plantier, and that’s due to bad, sloppy lazy policing. Nothing else.
I might not personally find Ian Bailey a very engaging character, but for the sake of our democracy, I’ll continue to point out that he is an innocent man.
That’s the law. Anything else is mob rule.