Ian Bailey says he did not exceed the limit after his arrest on suspicion of drink-driving

GARDAÍ has arrested 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.

Bailey was pulled over by Gardaí shortly after 9pm on Sunday as part of a routine traffic check outside Bantry.

According to a source, the vehicle involved was driving in an irregular manner.

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

However, it is clear that there was a problem with obtaining a proper breath sample at the scene and Mr. Bailey was taken to Bantry Garda Station where an alternate sample was secured.

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

He fully cooperated with the agents and delivered the sample to the station that will now be sent for testing to determine what action, if any, will result.

The poet and freelance journalist – who was later released by Gardaí on Sunday evening – told the Irish independent today he doesn’t believe he was over the limit.

He confirmed he had been arrested and is now awaiting the result of a sample submitted on Sunday evening regarding the requirements of the Road Traffic Act at Bantry Garda station.

“I was stopped by An Garda Síochána on Sunday evening and told that 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 instruction to provide a breath sample on site but was told I was not doing it right. I told them I thought the machine was faulty but was arrested for non-compliance and taken to Bantry Garda station.”

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

“I did have a single drink with some food earlier in the evening. But I don’t think I was over the limit. But we’ll have to wait and see (as evidenced by the sample analysis).”

He stressed that he tried to fully cooperate with Gardaí at all times on Sunday night.

He confirmed that he has been in contact with his lawyer about this.

Mr Bailey was previously apprehended and tested for suspected drunk driving in August 2019 in west Cork.

Although he failed a roadside alcohol test, a sample subsequently submitted at Bantry Garda station was found to be negative on analysis.

However, Mr Bailey was also tested for driving under the influence of drugs, resulting in a charge that is currently being appealed.

He has sought to have his drink-driving conviction overturned for being given a drink of water by gardaí just minutes before undergoing an oral drug test at a garda station in Cork.

The legal team of Mr. Bailey has argued that drinking water – just minutes before taking the Drager 5000 oral drug test at Bantry Garda station – “blatantly compromised” the subsequent test result.

The filing came as the Cork Circuit Appeal Court heard the challenge which has been postponed several times over the past two years.

Mr Bailey was originally convicted of driving under the influence of drugs by Judge John King in Bantry District Court in May 2021 after a case that took nearly a year to resolve.

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

Mr Bailey – who also has a law degree – has successfully challenged for extradition to France three times since 2010 for the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier (39).

He has consistently protested his innocence in relation to the December 23, 1996 murder of the French mother of a child at her holiday home in West Cork.

Mr Bailey was twice arrested by Gardaí in connection with the investigation in 1997 and 1998, but was released without charge on both occasions.

The Director of the Public Prosecution Service ruled in 2000/2001 that he had no case to answer.

But he was convicted in absentia by a French court of the murder in 2019 – despite repeated claims that attempts had been made to charge him with the crime. The French court imposed a prison sentence of 25 years.

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 relation to the drug case in which he used a cane and walked with a limp.

In 2020, Gardaí prosecuted Mr Bailey for driving a vehicle while under the influence of cannabis and for possession of a small amount of cannabis.

Mr Bailey contested the case but was sentenced by Judge John King in May 2021.

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

Mr Bailey was apprehended by Gardaí that Sunday evening as he drove through Skull Townland outside the village in west Cork.

He failed a roadside alcohol test, was arrested and taken to Bantry Garda station.

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

However, a search of his person while he was being arrested at the station turned up a small can containing what was later confirmed to be cannabis.

Detective Sergeant Kevin Heffernan then requested a specific drug test.

Garda Fintan Coffey performed the oral drug test on Mr. Bailey using a Drager 5000 machine. It indicated that Mr. Bailey had exceeded the drink-driving limit.

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

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

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

This was because Gda Coffey did not observe a 10-minute waiting time after the applicant had received water from another garda.

A major test case – separate from Mr Bailey’s proceedings – relating to such test waiting times is currently before the Supreme Court.

The Drager drug testing machine handbook states that a 10-minute wait should be observed if the person being tested has ingested food, drink, or chewing gum.

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

“He (Mr. Bailey) drank water just before he did it (the drug test). I say the test conducted by Gda Coffey was conducted illegally.”

Mr O’Dwyer also argued that the subsequent blood test was valid only if conditions were met, including a legal oral blood fluid test.

Gda Coffey told the court he was unaware at the time that Mr Bailey had been given a drink of water by another garda a few minutes earlier.

State Attorney Jerry Healy insisted that the oral drug test was performed properly and lawfully.

Mr Healy also dismissed the issues raised at the roadside checkpoint and Mr Bailey’s search at Bantry Garda station.

He argued that court rulings over the years indicated the need to take a broader view of matters.

“(Courts) cannot hold Gardaí to impossible demands,” 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 “a stir in the Oireachtas” if gardaí could only carry out routine checkpoints for very limited and specific reasons.

“Otherwise it is obvious that police action would be impossible,” he warned.

Judge Boyle said she would consider written legal comments related to the issues raised before her.

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

Judge Boyle adjourned the appeal for legal submissions.

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

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