Some members of the gardaí engaged in improper conduct, according to a draft report by Nial Fennelly, a judge who has, over the last 12 months, examined recordings of conversations relating to the murder of the French film producer Sophie Toscan du Plantier.
However, the judge’s draft report does not arrive at a finding of unlawful behaviour. And it is unclear if any action will be taken against the officers after the completed report is present to Taoiseach Enda Kenny at the end of this month.
The judge found that some gardai had discussions about shielding people from prosecution and altering witness statements.
The retired judge also found that the officers mentioned in the report – some of whom have died or retired – withheld evidence from the director of public prosecutions during the course of an investigation that identified Ian Bailey of the Prairie in Schull as the main suspect.
The recording system had been installed at Bandon Garda Station to help them in their attempts to identify a potential witness who had called the station anonymously on more than one occasion.
However, knowledge of the tapes only became public knowledge in 2014 after Ian Bailey and his legal team obtained an order for discovery when he sued the State for wrongful arrest.
The judge in that case determined that Ian Bailey’s civil case for damages was out of time, or beyond the statute of limitations, but that finding is being appealed.