Bailey's lawyer says the death of Sophie witness will not impact his defence

Bailey's lawyer says the death of Sophie witness will not impact his defence

Martin Graham died on Sunday following a long illness. Picture: Courts Collins

IAN Bailey’s defence will not be impacted by the death of one of the main witnesses in the Sophie Toscan du Plantier investigation, according to his French lawyer.

Dominique Tricaud was speaking to The Echo following the death in recent days of Martin Graham in Ballydehob, less than three months ahead of the trial of Mr Bailey for the murder of the French woman.

Mr Graham, who was originally from Wiltshire in England, died after a long illness and was laid to rest in Ballydehob on Wednesday.

Sophie Toscan du Plantier was murdered in 1996.
Sophie Toscan du Plantier was murdered in 1996.

He had appeared as a witness in Mr Bailey’s case against gardaí and the State for wrongful arrest in early 2015.

He claimed in the High Court that he had been given cannabis, cash and clothes by gardaí in return for becoming friendly with Mr Bailey with the aim of getting information linking Mr Bailey to the Frenchwoman’s murder.

Mr Graham had come to the gardaí’s attention because he was staying in a house in Skibbereen which was visited by Ian Bailey shortly after he was released after his first arrest in relation to the murder in February 1997.

Mr Bailey was arrested twice as part of the garda investigation into the 1996 murder but was never charged.

Mr Graham claimed gardaí gave him “a few quid — 20 bucks here, 40 bucks there”, clothes and of cannabis to befriend Ian Bailey and “loosen” his tongue.

Mr Tricaud told The Echo there were “no plans” to bring witnesses in defence of Mr Bailey to the French trial, scheduled to get under way on May 27, and as a result, his defence was not hampered by the death of Mr Graham.

Mr Tricaud also said that “nothing is decided” on whether Mr Bailey will travel to Paris for the case. Under French law, he can be tried in his absence.

Meanwhile, Alain Spilliaert, the lawyer for the family of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, said he could not reveal the identity of any prosecution witnesses before the trial.

Ian Bailey will go on trial in France in May. Pic: Courtpix
Ian Bailey will go on trial in France in May. Pic: Courtpix

Mr Bailey has always argued his innocence and has fought his extradition to France for the trial. However, his fight to prevent a French trial was rejected in France’s Supreme Court last year.

Investigators came to Ireland a number of times to question people who were witnesses in the garda investigation.

In 2005, a woman originally thought to be a key witness, Marie Farrell, withdrew her statements that she had seen Ian Bailey at Kealfadda Bridge, near the murder scene. She said gardaí had pressured her into making the statements.

After she withdrew the statements implicating Mr Bailey, a garda team was set up to investigate the circumstances under which they were withdrawn.

In late 2014, Ian Bailey took a High Court action for wrongful arrest against the State, which he lost.

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