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West Cork Podcast review - Episode 5: A Good Suspect

May 17th, 2021 11:38 AM

By Jack McCarron

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Spoiler Alert! This review contains spoilers. So if you haven’t listened to West Cork yet and are intending to do so - stop reading now!


In my introductory few words to last week's review I didn't hang about. It was straight in, no musings and no updates.

Well this week is going to be different. And that's because there was enough West Cork Podcast-related content in the news over the past seven days to fill a Schull detective's book of evidence.

First up was the non-airing last Sunday evening of the much-anticipated Jim Sheridan documentary Murder at the Cottage. A number of weeks back we reported that the new five-part series would be released on May 9th.

Then, the date arrived and there was no sign of the programme in the Sky Crime listings.  Naturally there was some consternation.

I began to question my own sanity. Where had I plucked May 9th from?

Thankfully though, Twitter did its thing and showed us that social media can be used for good as well as evil when West Cork writer Helena Farrell tweeted a picture of the original Sky advertisement confirming the May 9th broadcast date.

My editor has since reached out to Sky for an update but the best explanation they could give us was 'scheduling issues.' Watch this space.

As if that saga wasn't enough excitement for one week, even bigger news broke on Thursday morning when we reported that there is to be a third screen adaptation of the Sophie Toscan du Plantier murder story.

TV production company Sister, the outfit behind the brilliant Chernobyl, will be adapting Jennifer Forde & Sam Bungey's podcast for the small screen.

If we even get one character half as good as Paul Ritter's Anatoly Dyatlov from Chernobyl we're in for a treat.

Brendan Gleeson as 'cute hoor' Kerry detective Dermot Dwyer anyone?

Then on Thursday afternoon, just as I began to listen to this week's episode ahead of writing review number five, our chief suspect was back in the news again, this time after picking up €700 in fines and a driving ban from a judge in Bantry.

I'm starting to think the role of full time correspondent to this story may arise sooner rather than later.

I already have my CV prepared.


Finally, and literally as I write this review, I have just received a ping from the Apple Podcasts app on my phone notifying me that a brand new episode of West Cork has just dropped!

The episode reportedly details 'An Englishman on trial in France,' but it'll be another ten weeks before I get to that one.

Now where were we?

West Cork Podcast review - Episode 5: A Good Suspect

Listening to the opening few minutes of Episode 5: A Good Suspect is surreal, knowing everything we know, and everything that has gone on over the past 25 years.

An Garda Síochana have identified their main suspect, journalist Ian Bailey, and yet here he is, years later being interviewed by Sam and Jennifer.

Bailey's age at the time of the incident, 39, surprised me. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because I've only been aware of him in recent years but he was a very young man when this all started.

The tempo of episode five is deliberately less manic than the previous edition. It's more considered. More forensic. 

Bailey's movements before and after Sophie's murder are examined in minute detail. 

The most striking of which is that he was the first journalist at the scene of Sophie's death. What a scoop!

His unusual behaviour at said scene reportedly arouses the suspicion of the attending officers, and within five hours of this appearance, he’s on the garda radar.

With local gardaí now seemingly satisfied that they have their man, a low-rent game of cat and mouse ensues.

Think Steven Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can but without Leonardo di Caprio and his merry band of Pan Am stewardesses.

A corner shop on the Main Street in Schull replaces Miami as a ‘curious scene’ unfolds involving Bailey ‘barging his way to the counter’ past two members of An Garda Síochana.

One of the gardaí later wrote in a statement that Bailey was ‘unbelievably pale’ and ‘acting in a very unusual manner.’

Scratches on his hands drew the attention of the officers during the incident, and it was these scratches that became an important part of the early investigations.

The key markings up for examination were the aforementioned scratches on his hands and a mark on his forehead, supposedly inflicted by a flailing turkey.

Not since ‘he who shall not be named’ murdered James and Lily Potter leaving their orphaned son with a lightning bolt scar on his brow, had a forehead injury garnered such attention.

Bailey’s claim that the markings on his hands, arms and face were caused during the chopping of a Christmas tree and the slaughter of a Christmas turkey, was scrutinised but a key mistake by our police force seems to have made this potential evidence impermissible regardless of their source.

One garda concedes that it ‘would have been a good idea to make a photographic record.’

The re-introduction of ‘cute’ Kerry detective Dermot Dwyer in this episode gives us a greater insight into the mindset of the guards throughout the investigation and his tête-à-tête with Bailey is a highlight but it’s a sensational scene with Jennifer Forde that steals the show.

For the first time in the series the heat is turned up on Bailey by Forde who relishes the chance to flex her journalistic muscles.

When the absurdity of the whole sorry affair is put to Bailey he is audibly rattled and it makes for a brilliant piece of broadcasting.

An incredible admission by Bailey to a local teenager, revealing his dark sense of humour is another thread pulled at by our hosts in episode five as we begin to get to know our chief suspect much more intimately.

With all the early evidence pointing toward him, the episode ends with Bailey arrested and seemingly on course for a long spell in prison.

But something tells me there are few twists and turns still to come.

Our review of Episode 6: The Englishman will be available here next Monday.

If you’d like to get in touch with your own observations, theories or concerns about the West Cork Podcast you can email us at [email protected] or contact me directly on Twitter or Instagram @jayburgkk.

Read the review of Episode 4: Killer Among Us.

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