The 1997 statement, seen by by the Sunday Independent and now being studied again by detectives, claims Ian Bailey met Sophie on Cape Clear island the previous summer. Mr Bailey has always been adamant that while he may have seen Sophie at a distance, he never met or spoke to her.
Mark McCarthy of Schull made a sworn statement at Pearse Street Garda Station in Dublin on October 3, 1997. Sophie died on the night of December 22/23, 1996.
In it he says: “I know Ian Bailey about 5 years now. He is a Journalist and he is British. He is also a poet and is in his mid-forties. I remember seeing him on the RTE News earlier this year and he said on the news that he had never met the woman, by this I mean Sophie Du Plantier.
“I thought that this was strange because I had been in Cape Clear during the Summer of 1995 at a story telling festival. I was there and Ian Bailey was also there, and so was the French woman Sophie Du Plantier.
“I did not know Sophie Du Plantier at the time but I recognised her afterwards when I saw her pictures in the papers and on the television.”
Mr McCarthy emphasised: “I have no doubt but that she was the same woman that was at the festival that summer.”
He added: “When I saw her at the festival I saw her talking to Ian Bailey. I did not hear their conversation but it was that sort of occasion that everyone talked to everyone.
“They would have only talked for a few minutes. At the time the thought that crossed my mind was that there was Ian Bailey talking to an attractive blonde.
“She was of average height and of slim build and in her thirties and her hair was tied up. I did not think anymore of it at the time. This festival took place the first weekend in September in 1995.”
The witness alleges that the conversation took place outside the Club Bar at the pier on Cape Clear Island.
He also knew Jules Thomas’s daughters, who lived with their mother and Ian Bailey at The Prairie, Liscaha, outside Schull.
Mr McCarthy said: “Last Christmas  Jenny [Viginia] and Saphie [Saffron] told me how much effort that they had put into the Christmas tree and decorations.
“The girls were giving out about the fact that Ian Bailey was so lazy over the Christmas and that the girls had to put so much effort into the cutting down of the Christmas tree.
“I think that the girls had a few prick marks from handling the Christmas tree but they didn’t have scratches all over them.
“I believe that Ian and Jules were involved in the killing of the turkey. I saw Ian in Schull on Christmas Day at the swim. Neither of us took part.
“Ian was wearing a big hat but I could see a scratch on the right side of his temple. I remember at the time that the explanation for the scratch was when the turkey was being killed. It was either Jules or Ian said this.
“I thought that this explanation was unusual because I have killed a few turkeys in my time and they are not that hard to kill. They are docile creatures.”
On the night of the murder, Mr McCarthy said he was in the Galley pub with a girlfriend from Ballydehob. “I saw Jules Thomas and Ian Bailey in the pub as they are fond of music sessions, and there was one on that night.
“It was about ten o’clock when we left and they were still there. Sophie was killed later on this night. I remember reading an article on the Sunday Independent where Ian Bailey said that he did not have a violent nature and that he was a peaceful and calm person.
“I also thought that this was unusual because Jenny [Ginny] had told me that Ian had hit Jules several times in the face and ear while he was driving the car. This happened in June 1996 and I saw the injuries to her face.
“This shocked me because I disapprove of this and I was glad when they split up but Jules took Ian back a few months later. I have never seen Ian violent.”
Elio Malocco, author if “Killing Sophie,” the first book issued since the 25th anniversary of her brutal killing last month, says he first met Ian Bailey in June 2019 and discussed writing a book which would prove his innocence.
“He agreed to give me access to all his files. This included every statement that had every been made in the Irish investigation, the French investigation, the McAndrew investigation and all the papers which had been discovered in every court action in which he had been involved,” he said.
Mr Bailey was entitled to the Garda investigation file under discovery as part of his failed action for wrongful arrest against the State in 2014.
Mr Malocco, whose e-book is available on Amazon, said: “Rather than prove his innocence these [Garda and other file] statements contradicted everything Ian Bailey had told me.”