Ian Bailey says he was not over the limit following his arrest on suspicion of drink driving


GARDAÍ have detained Ian Bailey (65) on suspicion of drink driving in west Cork.

sample has now been submitted by gardaí for testing to determine what further action, if any, will result.

Mr Bailey was stopped shortly after 9pm on Sunday by gardaí as part of a routine traffic check outside Bantry.

One source said the vehicle involved was believed to have been driving in an erratic manner.

Mr Bailey was asked by officers of the West Cork Roads Policing Unit to submit a breath sample.

However, it is understood there was a difficulty in respect of securing a proper breath sample at the scene and Mr Bailey was taken to Bantry Garda Station where an alternative sample was secured.

Mr Bailey – who was returning from a music festival in Ballydehob – claimed it was not his fault a proper sample could not be supplied at the scene and that the machine being used was “defective”.

He co-operated fully with officers and provided the sample at the station which will now be sent for testing to determine what action, if any, will result.

The poet and freelance journalist – who was released later on Sunday evening by gardaí – told the Irish Independent today that he does not believe he was over the limit.

He confirmed he was arrested and is now awaiting the result of a sample submitted in respect of Road Traffic Act requirements at Bantry garda station on Sunday evening.

“I was stopped by An Garda Síochána on Sunday evening and informed I was driving erratically. I did not believe this was the case and told the garda,” he said.

“Three times I tried to comply with the direction to supply a breath sample at the scene but was told I was not doing it properly. I told them I believed the machine was defective but was arrested for non-compliance and taken to Bantry garda station.”

Mr Bailey said he was returning from “an absolutely fantastic music festival in Ballydehob” that evening.

“I did have a single drink earlier in the evening with some food. But I do not believe I was over the limit. But we will have to wait and see (what the sample analysis shows).”

He stressed that he attempted to co-operative fully with gardaí at all times on Sunday evening.

He confirmed he has been in contact with his solicitor in respect of the matter.

Mr Bailey was previously stopped and tested for suspected drink driving in August 2019 in west Cork.

While he failed a roadside alcolyser test, a sample subsequently submitted at Bantry garda station proved to be negative on analysis.

However, Mr Bailey was also tested for drug driving which resulted in a prosecution which is currently under appeal.

He has sought to have his conviction for drug driving quashed on the basis he was given a drink of water by gardaí just minutes before undergoing an oral drug test in a Cork garda station.

Mr Bailey’s legal team has submitted that the drink of water – given just minutes before he underwent the Drager 5000 oral drug test at Bantry garda station – “blatantly compromised” the subsequent test result.

The submission came as Cork Circuit Appeals Court dealt with the challenge which has been adjourned multiple times over the past two years.

Mr Bailey was originally convicted of drug driving by Judge John King before Bantry District Court in May 2021 following a case which took almost a year to resolve.

He was disqualified from driving for 12 months, although the disqualification was paused pending the outcome of Mr Bailey’s appeal.

Mr Bailey – who is also a law graduate – has successfully fought extradition to France three times since 2010 over the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier (39).

He has consistently protested his innocence in relation to the December 23, 1996, killing of the French mother-of-one at her west Cork holiday home.

Mr Bailey was twice arrested by gardaí in relation to the investigation in 1997 and 1998 but was released without charge on both occasions.

The Director of Public Prosecutions ruled in 2000/2001 that he did not have a case to answer.

But he was convicted in absentia by a French court of the killing in 2019 – despite repeatedly claiming that attempts were made to frame him for the crime. The French court imposed a 25 year prison term.

The poet, formerly of Liscaha, Schull, Co Cork but currently living in Bantry, described the Paris proceedings as “a farce” and “a show trial”.

Mr Bailey attended a Cork Circuit Appeal Court hearing in Skibbereen in respect of the drug driving case using a cane and walking with a limp.

In 2020, gardaí prosecuted Mr Bailey for operating a vehicle while under the influence of cannabis and for possession of a small quantity of cannabis.

Mr Bailey contested the matter but was convicted by Judge John King in May 2021.

The counts all arose from an incident on August 25, 2019, outside Schull in west Cork

Mr Bailey was stopped by gardaí while driving at Skull townland outside the west Cork village that Sunday evening.

He failed a roadside alcolyser test, was arrested and taken to Bantry garda station.

Mr Bailey underwent a second test for alcohol but was found to be well below the legal drink driving limit.

However, a search of his person while at the station under arrest yielded a small tin containing what was subsequently confirmed to be cannabis.

Detective Sergeant Kevin Heffernan then requested a specific drug test.

Garda Fintan Coffey conducted the oral drug test on Mr Bailey using a Drager 5000 machine. It indicated that Mr Bailey was over the drug driving limit.

A doctor was called to the station and a blood sample was taken from Mr Bailey. The blood sample results, received on October 29, 2019, showing a reading of 2.7ng/ml for D9 Tetrahydrocannabinol (cannabis) where the limit is 1ng/ml and 19.5ng/ml for 11-nor-9-carboxy-D9-tetrahydrocannabinol (cannabis) where the limit is 5ng/ml.

Judge King disqualified Mr Bailey from driving for 12 months and fined him a total of €700.

However, counsel for Mr Bailey, Alan O’Dwyer BL, instructed by solicitor Ray Hennessy, argued before Judge Helen Boyle at Cork Circuit Appeals Court that the oral drug test was invalid.

This was because Gda Coffey did not observe a 10 minute waiting period after the appellant had been given a drink of water by a different garda.

A key test case – separate to Mr Bailey’s proceedings – in relation to such test wait periods is currently before the High Court.

The Drager drug test machine manual said a 10 minute wait must be ensured if food, drink or chewing gum has been taken by the person to be tested.

“The oral fluid test has been blatantly compromised by the consumption of water,” Mr O’Dwyer said.

“He (Mr Bailey) consumed water just before he did it (the drug test). I say that the test performed by Gda Coffey was performed unlawfully.”

Mr O’Dwyer also argued that the subsequent blood test was only valid if preconditions including a lawful oral blood fluid test were fulfilled.

Gda Coffey told the court he was not aware at the time that Mr Bailey had been given a drink of water by another garda just minutes earlier.

State Solicitor Jerry Healy insisted the oral drug test was carried out correctly and lawfully.

Mr Healy also dismissed issues raised over the roadside checkpoint and the search of Mr Bailey at Bantry garda station.

He argued judicial rulings over the years indicated a wider view had to be taken in cases.

“(Courts) cannot hold gardaí to impossible requirements,” he said, citing case law.

“You cannot elevate the personal rights of drunk drivers above the personal rights of their potential victims.”

Mr Healy also argued that there would be “uproar in the Oireachtas” if gardaí were only able to conduct routine checkpoints for very limited and specific reasons.

“Otherwise it is crystal clear that policing would be impossible,” he warned.

Judge Boyle said she would consider written legal submissions in relation to the issues raised before her.

Mr Healy said he will also inquire with the DPP about the High Court case over the test delay period and any matters arising from it.

Judge Boyle adjourned the appeal for legal submissions.

Mr O’Dwyer said his client wanted the matter resolved.

“This matter has been playing on Mr Bailey’s mind for some time,” he said.