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Sunday, January 15, 2017

The persecution of Ian Bailey


                                                                           Ian Bailey
It was never the prosecution of Ian Bailey for the murder of Susan de Plantier back in 1997 but the persecution of Ian Bailey that was ever going to land him in court, and only the court of public opinion. As many a murder suspect before, even the ‘self confessed’ ones, this was just another trial by media if ever there was one. Rather than citing the plethora of media outlets than jumped on the bandwagon to crush Ian for almost 20 years, for the sake of jury-prudence, I thought it best to write about one particular journalist that represented the biggest selling newspaper in the land at that time, and who wrote the article titled, The Trials Of Ian Bailey, almost 13 years ago.  The writers name was Stephen Dodd.

Stephen wasted no time in getting to the heart of the matter by his many sources starting with the ‘neighbours.’ The reader is told by them or Dodd that Ian Bailey did not have a wholesome reputation; he was an oddball, an Engllish blow-in that frightened and who beat his lover, and howled at the moon. Despite Ian being a journalist, Dodd thought he had only literary pretensions. There was more: Ian was seen by people at night, roaming the lanes with a big thick stick in his hand; it was called Bailey’s ‘thinking stick.’ Brian Jackson, one of the neighbours, recalled he ‘learned’ that Ian’s hobby was destroying religious artifacts. Apparently Dodd had the neighbours feelings confirmed, and I guess his own, that Ian Bailey was a vicious man, shorn of kindness and compassion, puffed with misplaced pride.  The neighbours were forced out of the closest in a libel action by Ian to stop them, their lies, and the media from destroying what was left of his already tarred and feathered reputation.

It was all to no avail. It also came out that he assaulted his girlfriend when he snapped while under the constant and crushing yet unrelenting weight of that gossip that he was a murderer, where the only evidence against him was that he was a ‘self confessed suspect.’ She believed the attack of trial by media and neighbours was much worse than the 3 fights they had in all of that time (7 years) and 13 years later again he is still with his girlfriend who believed always and ever that he was innocent.  Ian claimed then as he does now that he had been “Eaten alive, battered, vilified and demonized by those press reports." When asked did he think the court should award him damages for being told that that he was a prime suspect in the Sophie Toscan Du Plantier murder, even though he was a self-confessed suspect who tried to kill his lover, Ian could only answer sheepishly that that was for the court to decide. Despite the fact that he did not try to kill his lover and absolutely no evidence that he tried or did murder anyone else, court privilege can let a prosecutor say anything they like but not so the defendant.

Dodd then informs the reader in his piece that the libel trial was not a criminal one without once questioning neighbours their morality of character, and especially one like Richard Shelley. With neighbours like this guy you do need a bigger field for your house, with electric fence, CCTV cameras, audio equipment and a few man-eating dogs for good measure. Apparently Ian Bailey also confessed to Richard of murder and in front of others too at a party. He even showed them clippings of the case just to make sure they knew who he was talking about. I know he might have thought they were all a bit thick but surely they were not that thick. And if you have a neigbour like Marie Farrell, then you just better move altogether, preferably to another country.

She stated about the night of the murder this: “I Just saw this man sort of staggering, half walking along the road, his arms were waving and his coat was flying open; like somebody who was half drunk.” Yeah, old Ian again. She also stated that Ian tried to intimidate her later and once made cut-throat gestures toward her.” She went on: “My life was a living nightmare because I couldn’t even stay in my shop. I had to pay 3 girls to stay there all the time because I couldn’t be there, and in the end I just ended up in debt because I was so afraid to stay there because of Ian Bailey.” If that didn’t do it to finish off Ian’s reputation, they wheeled yet another star witness afterwards, who was then a 14 year - old boy named Malachi.

Accepting a lift from Ian, who by then was a well known suspected murderer or at least a self-confessed one and quite infamous to boot, in his car one evening, Malachi testified he noticed that Ian was anxious, preoccupied, holding his head and cursing to himself, and when he asked him how was work going, Ian replied: Fine until ‘I went up there with a rock and bashed her  f***ing brains in.” I couldn’t help wonder at this point in Dodds rather colourful piece then was Malachi Reid a cub reporter later.

Dodd tried to finish his article with a flourish by telling us that Ian Bailey was now adrift, facing the twin disasters of a possible overwhelming legal bill and a civil case taken by Sophie de Plantier’s parents, with the director of public prosecutions also re-examining the case.  But perhaps the future was laid bare best by Ian Bailey instead when he said: “ I couldn’t leave it behind, this is not going to disappear. Anyway, there were articles written about me in French, Spanish and Italian media, and one piece in America. I also knew that a murder inquiry has no statutory limitations and I stayed to fight and prove my innocence.” That fight, then it its 7th year, would need another decade or more  before the tide would turnouts a little for Ian Bailey.

By the time 2013 arrived, Marie Farrell had already re-canted her statements 8 years earlier, citing she had made them at the time because of pressure from the Gardai (which they denied as usual); files have gone missing since as usual as well, others sought, and Ian Bailey has got a law degree and is suing everybody related to his persecution including the ones who got away first time around. The overwhelming legal bill looks like it will land on us only, the long suffering taxpayer, and may be the price that has to be paid if it gets real justice for Ian or anyone else that matters.  

Daniel Toscan du Plantier, Susans husband, who died in 2003, had seen the future too when he said: "I knew the dangers of blaming Ian Bailey. I criticize them (the Gardai) for throwing out his name with such incredible recklessness. Because, if there is one chance in a hundred that he is innocent, it is terrifying.”

The odds have gotten a lot better since.

Barry Clifford