IAN Bailey’s partner Jules Thomas claims she has suffered psychiatric illness and ‘incalculable’ damage due to alleged actions by gardai and the State concerning the investigation into the late 1996 murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier.
And a pyschiatrist’s report claims she was ‘shunned’ by her community.
Mr Justice John Hedigan this week granted an application by the State for a preliminary hearing of issues which, if decided against Ms Thomas, may either completely halt, or shorten, her civil action for damages.
Having dealt with Mr Bailey’s separate case over 64 days earlier this year, the judge said that he believed anything that can be done to shorten or even fully strike out Ms Thomas’ case at an early stage, should be done.
The first preliminary issue is whether Ms Thomas’ case, initiated in 2007 and arising from her arrests in 1997 and 2000 in connection with Ms du Plantier’s murder, was brought outside the six-year legal time limit. The second issue is whether there was excessive delay in bringing it. A hearing date for the issues will be fixed next month.
Luán O Braonáin, SC, for the defendants, argued there was a ‘deep irony’ in Ms Thomas’ opposing trial of preliminary issues when lawyers for Mr Bailey had strongly criticised the State’s delay, until near the end of Mr Bailey’s case, in successfully seeking to have large aspects of his separate case halted. Mr Bailey’s remaining claims of conspiracy by some gardai to frame him for murder were rejected by a High Court jury last March, leaving him facing a bill of up to €5m.
Mr O Braonáin said it was ‘very unsatisfactory’ for Ms Thomas to now claim, due to a psychiatric illness, a possibility of her being under a disability up to 2011 when it came to instructing lawyers. It was also incorrect for her side to infer malice or fraudulent concealment concerning information supplied by his side to her lawyers concerning the DPP’s advices against prosecuting her.
Michael Lynn, SC for Ms Thomas, said he would apply later to make additional claims concerning her psychological capacity to instruct lawyers before 2007 and to allege gardai continued to engage in ‘surreptitious’ intelligence gathering on her, up to 2010, giving her a continuing cause of action of which she only became aware in recent years.
The judge asked counsel would he not expect gardai to ‘keep an eye’ on all suspects in the investigation of a murder which is still unsolved.
Mr Lynn said Ms Thomas’ case was entirely separate from Mr Bailey’s, she was entitled to a separate hearing and, while it might be ‘uncomfortable’ for the system to rerun issues, that is what justice requires.
In a report read in court, a psychiatrist who assessed Ms Thomas recently said he believed she has been affected by depressive illness from 1996 until at least 2011 which was likely to have caused an impediment in her mental state, affecting her ability to instruct lawyers.
He said she was subject to ‘massively stressful’ circumstances, including the trauma of being the partner of a murder suspect and being shunned in the community, is vulnerbale to recurrent periods of depression and it will be years before her symptoms will ameliorate to any significant extent, if they do at all.