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DAY 2 OF BAILEY LIBEL TRIAL: I beat up my lover 3 times; BAILEY TELLS HOW HE PULLED HER HAIR OUT, BIT HER AND HIT HER IN THE EYE AND LIP.

Byline: ANN MOONEY

IAN Bailey kept a secret book in which he detailed a horrific attack by him on his girlfriend, a court heard yesterday.

It told how he pulled out clumps of Jules Thomas' hair, bit her arm, left her eye the size of a grapefruit and severed her lip from her gum.

But he refused to concede that he was a violent man and said he would not regard the vicious attack like this on a defenceless woman as "animal-like".

It also emerged at Cork Circuit Civil Court that Bailey had assaulted Ms Thomas on THREE different occasions.

One attack took place in his car, a second when they were in a small bed together and he pushed her out and the third when he hit her with a crutch and badly injured her.

He said: "During the 13 years we have been together we have had three fights."

Bailey, a 45-year-old Englishman, is suing seven newspapers for libel after articles written about the 1996 killing of French beauty Sophie du Plantier outside her West Cork home.

The freelance journalist was arrested and questioned by gardai in connection with the murder.

Bailey lives with his partner Ms Thomas in The Prairie Cottage near Schull just a few miles from the murdered woman's home.

Yesterday, it emerged that the row in May 1996 began after Ms Thomas allegedly accused the journalist of interfering with her 18-year-old daughter Virginia, although he denied having heard of such an allegation.

When shown photos of the injuries inflicted on his lover by him and asked his opinion of the attack, Bailey said: "It was not very nice at all."

And when pressed about the issue by lawyer Paul Gallagher, appearing for the seven newspapers, he admitted: "It is appalling."

But Bailey defended the attack, which took place in their car as they were driving home from a party, by stating it would never have happened if they had both stayed sober.

And he accused his lover of starting the fight by trying to scratch his face.

He said: "It was not planned or premeditated. It was something that happened in the heat of the moment

"I tried to push her away. She started biting me. Yes I lost control on the night. My behaviour was very bad and I am ashamed of it. I have taken steps to correct it.

"I pushed her away with my open palm and her hair came out".

He agreed her lip was severed from her gum and that she needed eight stitches to put it together again.

She also had bite marks on her hand and arm which he said happened when she put her hand up to his face.

He said: "I was trying to drive the car and she was trying to scratch me."

But even when Bailey and Ms Thomas arrived home he did not try to get medical help for her and it was left to her daughter Virginia to call a neighbour.

The court heard the girl was screaming at Bailey to give her the keys of the car so she could take her mother to the hospital but he would not hand them over. During this time Ms Thomas had gone into her bedroom where she was curled up and screaming in pain.

Bailey was barred from the house because of the terrible assault after his partner secured a barring order, but they later made up and he returned home.

Mr Gallagher asked if he accepted that he had lost control during the attack and Ms Thomas was lucky that her injuries were not even more severe. Bailey replied: "I did not intend to hurt her. What can I say. Yes I lost control to a degree. I hurt her. These are things that happen.

"Jules was coming at me and I was caught in a difficult situation." Asked why he did not contact a doctor for his partner when he knew she was badly hurt, he said: "I think Ginny called a neighbour and the doctor. She took control. I was also very upset over what had happened.

"It was appalling what happened. On this occasion I was violent, but I am not a violent person. We were both drunk. It would not have happened if drink was not involved." He accepted that he had attacked the woman whom he said he loved, who had taken him into her home and with whom he lived.

But he added: "If she had not started going at my face in the car this would not have happened." He said he had a few scratches but he could not remember if he got medical treatment. Mr Gallagher asked Bailey if he hit Ms Thomas again when they got back to the house and he denied this.

However, the counsel referred to a book in which Bailey had written about the attack and he replied: "I could well have written it in my books. I was in the habit of writing things in books."

Earlier in the day, Bailey described how he was arrested and taken to Bandon Garda station in handcuffs.

He said while in the car, gardai appeared to follow a "pre-rehearsed" routine and were engaging in different conversations.

Bailey added: "At this stage I had nothing to hide.

"They were telling me that they had a case against me and enough evidence to put me away for life.

"The driver told me if they could not pin anything on me I was finished in Ireland. He said, 'You will be found with a bullet in the back of your head'."

He said when they reached Bandon there was about 15 to 25 journalists waiting outside the Garda station. They started to move on the car and he tried to shield himself from the photographers.

But as he was being led from the car, a photographer got a picture of him.

Bailey said he was advised by his solicitor to say nothing during the 12 hours interrogation and not to sign any statements, but he disregarded his advice because he felt by saying nothing they would think he had done something.

He was told that everyone knew he had killed Ms du Plantier and that Ms Thomas had accepted he was the killer.

Bailey claimed he had to strip and said he then a blood sample for DNA testing because he had nothing to hide.

He said: "I was absolutely happy to give DNA because I believed that would clear it up for them."

When he was released he went to a friend's house in Skibbereen because he was told his partner wanted nothing to do with him.

He returned home to The Prairie Cottage later which was under siege by journalists.

He accepted he spoke to journalists from the Mirror, The Sun and The Star in the hope that that would get them to leave him and his partner alone.

He said the articles which were before the court from the papers that are being sued for EUR38,000 each in libel damages were extremely hurtful, shocking and untrue and he felt betrayed by them.

The trial continues today.

CAPTION(S):

PARTNER: Jules Thomas at court yesterday; ADMISSION: Ian Bailey described attacks at Cork |Circuit Civil Court yesterday; MURDERED: Sophie du Plantier; EVIDENCE: Bailey's solicitor Con Murphy arrives at court
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 10, 2003
Words:1229
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