Journalist admits beating partner

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Published: Wednesday 12th November 2014 by The News Editor

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A former journalist who claims he was framed for the unsolved murder of a French film maker in Ireland has admitted assaulting his partner.

Ian Bailey, an English reporter who moved to west Cork more than 23 years ago, is suing the Irish state after being arrested twice over the killing of Sophie Toscan du Plantier.

The 39-year-old producer was found by two neighbours beaten to death on a hillside outside her holiday home in a remote part of west Cork two days before Christmas 1996.

Mr Bailey denies any involvement in the death and was never charged.

The High Court in Dublin – where the 57-year-old is suing the Irish state for wrongful arrest – heard details of a litany of injuries suffered by his partner Jules Thomas, an artist originally from Wales but who has lived in west Cork for at least two decades.

“It’s common knowledge to my eternal shame that in the past when I used to drink spirits, that to my eternal shame, that I was involved in incidents of domestic violence with Ms Thomas,” Mr Bailey said.

“I don’t know what I can say about that other than to say it’s to my eternal shame.”

Mr Bailey revealed it was known in the locality of Liscaha, Schull in west Cork, where he had been living with Ms Thomas, that he had beaten her.

“People would have been aware,” he told the court.

“I don’t know if it was plain for people to see it. It was common knowledge or there was knowledge of it.”

Mr Bailey was shown four photos of injuries Ms Thomas sustained but refused to detail them to the jury.

“I’m not going to describe it. What I see in the photographs is shameful and disgraceful of me and I’m not going to describe that,” he said.

Pressed on the injuries from May 1996 by senior counsel for the State, Luan O Braonain, Mr Bailey agreed with a series of descriptions.

Ms Thomas had a closed, blackened right eye. Another picture showed a bandage over her eye, in another bruises could be seen on her hand and she had a 4cm clump of hair pulled from her head.

Almost 20 years on from the killing of Ms Toscan du Plantier, Mr Bailey is suing the Garda Commissioner, the Minister for Justice and the Attorney General for wrongful arrest and the handling of the murder investigation.

The jury of eight men and four women has been told the State denies all claims.

Mr Bailey was arrested twice on suspicion of the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier, first on February 10 1997 and again in January 20 1998, his birthday.

Mr Bailey said he had been given legal advice prior to the trial not to discuss his past history of violence and said on reflection he would have come to court with a “warts and all approach”.

Ms Thomas has been at Mr Bailey’s side throughout the first week of the civil action.

During the third day of cross-examination, Mr Bailey told the court the reasons for the assaults “have long been cured”.

The first attack took place in a car after the couple had been out socialising and drinking. Mr Bailey said Ms Thomas grabbed him and he reacted by pushing her away before attacking her.

The court was told of a second time Mr Bailey beat Ms Thomas in an attack while they were in the home they share, Prairie Cottage, in August 2001.

Mr Bailey said he pleaded guilty and was given a suspended sentence.

The court heard he hit Ms Thomas on the face, trunk, limbs and left cheek in the attack in the house after Ms Thomas woke him from a nap on a couch and told him to find somewhere else to sleep.

Mr Bailey disputed the injuries.

But he added: “I admit that was an act of disgraceful responsibility … disgraceful violence.”

In the first incident Ms Thomas was discharged the following day after being treated in hospital in Cork.

“The point is this – whatever my shortcomings, to the day I die I’ll be ashamed of that,” Mr Bailey said.

“But what was subsequently done to me to try and put me in a box and bury me, it pales on the scales.”

Mr Bailey accepted he had been “seriously violent” towards a woman.

“To my eternal shame,” he said.

Mr Bailey later rejected assertions that he had been shunned in the west Cork area after news of his attack on Ms Thomas emerged following the conviction in 2001.

“I was not aware that I was shunned,” he told the court.

“Unfortunately as we know domestic violence is very common. There were many other people without mentioning other names in the locality that have had incidents of domestic violence.”

Mr Bailey added: “It is not (OK).

“I was not the only person in west Cork for example that was guilty of domestic violence when drink was involved.”

Mr Bailey also insisted the attack on Ms Thomas with a crutch was not premeditated.

The hearing continues.

Published: Wednesday 12th November 2014 by The News Editor

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