THE Court of Appeal will rule later on an appeal by Ian Bailey’s partner Jules Thomas against a ruling allowing a pre-trial hearing which could lead to large parts, and perhaps all, of her action for damages being struck out.
Schull resident Ms Thomas has sued the Garda Commissioner and State claiming she suffered ‘incalculable’ damage arising from the Garda investigation into the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier in West Cork in 1996. Her claim was brought on grounds including alleged wrongful arrest and false imprisonment on dates in 1997 and 2000.
A date for the full action has yet to be fixed and she has appealed a High Court decision directing a preliminary hearing of issues concerning whether most, if not all, of her claims should be struck out on grounds of being brought outside the six-year legal time limit and if there was excessive delay in bringing it.
Ms Thomas claims any delay is a result of psychiatric illness and damage suffered due to alleged actions of the defendants.
In submissions on behalf of Ms Thomas, Michael Lynn SC argued a preliminary issues hearing should not have been directed, as Ms Thomas alleges a continuing conspiracy against her which is not subject to the Statute of Limitations.
It was also argued that all of the evidence in relation to the alleged wrongful acts of the defendants would need to be heard by the trial jury before they can decide whether or not a contining conspiracy exists, or if Ms Thomas has proven liability on even part of her case.
Ms Thomas is entitled to a separate hearing of her claims outside of the hearing of Mr Bailey’s case, Mr Lynn said.
Ms Thomas is also relying on defences of alleged fraudulent concealment and lack of capacity as provided for under the Statute of Limitations. In that context, she alleges she has suffered severe psychological damage as a consequence of alleged actions of the defendants.
Opposing the appeal, Luán O Braonáin SC, for the defendants, argued issues of alleged fraudulent concealment and capacity were not pleaded and were raised for the first tine in August 2015. There awas no specific allegation of conspiracy in the statement of claim, he also argued.
If the defendants won on the preliminary issues, that would dispose entirely of Ms Thomas’ case and remove the need for a long and costly jury trial, it was submitted.
Towards the end of Mr Bailey’s 64-day action in March 2015, the defendants successfully applied to Mr Justice John Hedigan to have large aspects of his case withdrawn from the jury.
His remaining claims of conspiracy by some gardai to frame him for murder were rejected by the jury.