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!
'The Bailey Star!' was a comment under one of our Ian Bailey-related stories that caught my eye on social media this week.
For a brief moment it made me question the amount of coverage we give the chief suspect in Sophie Toscan du Plantier's 1996 murder across our newspaper, website and social media channels.
But then the comments and clicks kept rolling in.
There is a genuine interest in all things Bailey across West Cork and why wouldn't there be?
It's one of the great unsolved murder cases in modern Irish society and we just happen to be the newspaper whose patch it happened on.
So rather than take a moral stand against the coverage Bailey seems to so desperately crave, I'll offer up another podcast review and continue to feed to machine.
West Cork podcast review - Episode 7: The Arrest
The ‘apex’ of the Sophie Toscan du Plantier murder investigation is explored in Episode 7: The Arrest.
This ‘is as close’ as An Garda Síochána got to securing a prosecution for a crime that has reverberated through West Cork and wider Irish society for a quarter of a century.
Ian Bailey could been described as a fantasist.
A Walter Mitty-type who believes in his own bluster.
And so when he details the ‘abuse’ he was subjected to by gardaí when arrested, it’s hard not to look at it suspiciously.
But who really knows?
There are no recorded interviews from the investigation, just written notes and memos.
So his claim that gardaí warned him he’d end up in a ditch ‘with a bullet in the back of the head,’ may seem spurious but our police force have been known to use such tactics.
This chapter of the series documents the arrest, interrogation and cross-examination of Ian Bailey and his former partner Jules Thomas in the weeks after Sophie’s death.
One garda describes how dealing with Bailey is like playing a ‘game of chess’.
Unfortunately for Jules, she found herself being used as an unwilling pawn in their bid to secure a conviction.
You’d have to feel for Jules listening to episode seven and knowing what she's been through in her life.
We learn how her first husband would regularly kick her while wearing hobnail boots.
We also learn that a big part of the investigation was tied to Bailey’s acts of violence against her.
‘There were a couple,’ Bailey says of instances he’d assaulted Jules.
‘Three I think all together.’
These assaults left Jules with what are described as ‘serious head injuries.’
But Bailey is quick to play down these acts.
He compares the situation with that of Hollywood screen icons Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, who had a famously turbulent relationship in the 1960s.
Burton was also prone to acts of domestic violence against his partner.
This is yet another example of Bailey comparing himself to a Hollywood legend.
In episode six it was Jeremy Irons.
It’s also another example of Bailey adding context where it isn’t needed.
There is no philosophical or metaphorical reasoning needed when it comes to domestic violence.
But he can’t help himself.
Bailey seems to suffer from what I’d call ‘never-wrong’ syndrome.
Otherwise known as narcissism.
This is also evident from his bouts of selective memory loss.
When it helps get him out of a bind, Bailey displays acts of recollection the great Jimmy Magee would have been proud of.
And mere seconds later he can barely remember what he’s had for breakfast a la Guy Pearce’s character in Christopher Nolan’s Memento.
Episode 7: The Arrest features more twists and turns than the Goleen to Crookhaven road, with Bailey’s alibi coming under intense scrutiny and reports of a suspicious bonfire at the Prairie during the Christmas period but ultimately I was left with a slightly hollow feeling.
Even though I knew no conviction would be forthcoming, it’s hard to square that with what we’ve heard in the series up to now.
Where Sam Bungey and Jennifer Forde take us from here is anyone’s guess.
Our review of Episode 8: The Game Is On 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 6: The Englishman.