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LIBEL TRIAL: DAY 6: He hit me, but I forgive him.. we were both bad - IAN BAILEY'S PARTNER JULES THOMAS YESTERDAY.

Byline: ANN MOONEY

IAN Bailey's lover claimed yesterday that his attacks, two of which left her hospitalised, were not serious and were over "in a flash".

Jules Thomas who lives with the freelance journalist in her home The Prairie cottage, near Schull in West Cork, said the assaults were "alcohol fuelled" and that she had forgiven him.

She maintained that while Bailey did beat her, reports of the attacks were exaggerated and that she was partly to blame for what happened.

Ms Thomas said: "Alcohol- fuelled tempers are unforgivable but they happen in homes every day.

"Figures show that 10,000 domestic issues are reported every year and as many are unreported. We were both bad with each other."

Asked if she deserved what had happened to her, she said: "Deserve does not come into it. These incidents happen in the home.

"They do not happen all the time. There were three such incidents over 13 years. They happened very quickly and were over in 30 seconds."

Artist Ms Thomas was giving evidence on the sixth day of Ian Bailey's libel hearing against seven newspapers, which he claims portrayed him as the prime suspect after his arrest following the horrific murder Sophie du Plantier.

The French film maker's battered body was found outside her holiday home at Toomore in West Cork on December 23, 1996.

Ms Thomas defended her lover vigorously yesterday in the Cork Circuit Court saying his normal demeanor was not to be violent.

He had now given up alcohol and he did not beat her any more.

She claimed newspaper reports of the court case taken after Bailey assaulted her with a crutch in 2001 were excessive.

Ms Thomas accepted that she had told the judge at that time she had ended the relationship and she was scared of Bailey.

But she told Judge Patrick Moran yesterday: "I think you say these things to get a barring order".

Referring to the beating she said the crutches were light and she mainly suffered from bruising of her body and face.

She added: "It was not as if I was being beaten with two old-fashioned wooden sticks."

She said she had been put under enormous pressure by the Garda to press charges against Bailey.

After the assault she contacted her friend Sue Hill but she was unable to come and get her so she contacted the police.

Ms Thomas said: "I was still in shock after the assault. Two detectives came around and kept saying I must charge Ian. I was in a dazed state at the time and I was pretty miserable.

"The gardai seemed absolutely delighted. They were revelling in it".

When she was asked about the 1993 assault on about which Bailey had written in his diary "I actually tried to kill her", she said she never read his diaries and the first she knew about this was when it came up in court.

She said: "I believe that was in relation to a poem. There is a certain disbelief in the written word and I disbelieve the sentiments expressed in them.

"Maybe he wrote them out of a sense of remorse for what he had done. I would not take the words literally. Writing is different from doing."

Asked about statements she made in Bandon Garda station, which she signed after her arrest on February in connection with the murder investigation, she said she was not happy with their contents.

She claimed they had been changed and she was drained after 12 hours of questioning. At one stage speaking about her arrest ,Ms Thomas's voice broke and she sobbed: "I could not speak. I felt so damaged. I signed the statements under heavy duress."

She said when she was told by gardai that Bailey was seen at Ceal Fada Bridge washing his boots she was stunned.

Ms Thomas denied saying she had been duped by him and that she was shattered if this was true.

She added: "These were not my words, they are twisted. I just found when I read my statements later that a slant had been put on my words." She said she would have known if Bailey went to the bridge that night and it was not possible as he had written a lengthy article for the Sunday Tribune on internet cafes.

Ms Thomas claimed she never said he had mentally manipulated her or that he had used her.

She also denied telling gardai that when Bailey returned on the morning of December 23 that she saw a raw fresh bloody mark on his forehead. She claimed gardai tried to put those words in her mouth.

The trial continues today.

CAPTION(S):

TOGETHER: Ian Bailey and Jules Thomas out=side court yesterday; KILLED: Sophie du Plantier
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 16, 2003
Words:795
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