Lawyers for journalist Ian Bailey have told the High Court his life has been destroyed for the past 18 years because gardaí blamed him for a crime he did not commit.

Mr Bailey says he was wrongly arrested on suspicion of the murder of French woman Sophie Toscan du Plantier in west Cork in 1996.

The 57-year-old from the Prairie, Schull in west Cork is suing the Garda Commissioner, Minister for Justice and the Attorney General for damages.

Senior counsel Tom Creed said this action for damages was the only way Mr Bailey could vindicate his position.

Mr Bailey is seeking damages for unlawful arrest, false imprisonment, assault, battery, trespass, intentional infliction of emotional and psychological harm, harassment, intimidation, terrorising and oppressive behaviour and a breach of his constitutional rights.

Mr Creed said gardaí set about blaming Mr Bailey for a crime he did not commit. 

He said Mr Bailey alleges that they conspired to manufacture evidence to try to have him prosecuted.

Mr Creed said Mr Bailey's life had been blighted and destroyed for the past 18 years.

He told the jury that 15 years later the nightmare continued for Mr Bailey after the French authorities issued a European Arrest Warrant based on the "same bogus evidence pedalled by the gardaí".

He said Mr Bailey's partner, Jules Thomas, wrote to the DPP in 2011 pleading with him to prosecute Mr Bailey so he could have a fair trial in Ireland.

In her letter, Ms Thomas said they were living in hell.

Insufficient evidence to prosecute

The DPP replied to say a decision had been taken not to prosecute due to insufficient evidence and it would be inappropriate to do so.

Mr Creed asked the jury to imagine the desperation Mr Bailey must have felt when the DPP had decided not to prosecute and gardaí were still actively pursuing it with the French authorities.

Despite a decision of the High Court to extradite him to France being overturned by the Supreme Court, Mr Bailey still cannot leave Ireland as he could be arrested anywhere in Europe and sent to France because the EAW has not been cancelled.

As a result, he could not attend his mother's funeral.

Mr Creed said if Mr Bailey had been convicted of the murder, which took place 18 years ago, he would be free by now.

Instead, he had been living a life of hell.

A jury of eight men and four women has been sworn-in to hear the case, which is expected to take up to six weeks.

They have been warned not to rush to judgment, not to research the case on the internet and to be careful about media coverage of the case.

Bailey's 1997 garda interview not videotaped

Mr Creed said Mr Bailey's interviews with gardaí were not videotaped when he was arrested in February 1997.

Mr Creed said Mr Bailey constantly and steadfastly maintained he had no involvement in the murder.

When he left the station after being released without charge, he said he had to face a phalanx of reporters and cameramen, and an unprecedented level of publicity was meted out.

Mr Creed said the matter went on after the release and people were put under pressure to try to get evidence against Mr Bailey.

He said Mr Bailey became a social pariah and described life at that stage as abysmal.

The court was told Mr Bailey was rearrested in January 1998 and again constantly protested his innocence. He was again released without charge.

But he said there were suggestions by gardaí to the media that "the suspect would kill again".

Mr Creed said Ms Thomas was also arrested in 1998.

He said she was arrested again in 2000, even though the DPP had told gardaí not to arrest her.

Mr Creed said gardaí were not prepared to accept the fact that the DPP said there was no basis for prosecuting Mr Bailey.

He said gardaí put pressure on the state solicitor to get the then minister for justice, John O'Donoghue, to put pressure on the DPP to prosecute Mr Bailey.

Key witness 'threatened and cajoled' by gardaí

The jury has been told key witness Marie Farrell will say she was put under endless pressure from gardaí to make fictitious statements to help build up a profile of Mr Bailey as a threatening and intimidating person.

Mr Creed said Ms Farrell will say she was told to "stick to her story and stop panicking"  when she said she wanted no more to do with giving false statements about Mr Bailey intimidating her.

He said Ms Farrell was told she would be prosecuted for wasting garda time if she withdrew her statements.

She will also say she gave false evidence to a libel trial under pressure from gardaí and was told she would never have a moment's peace if she resiled from her statements.

The jury was told that Ms Farrell was urged to make a number of false complaints about intimidation by Mr Bailey but on one of the dates Mr Bailey was in his solicitor's office and could not have been where she alleged.

Mr Creed said when Mr Bailey later said he would sue Ms Farrell for this her conscience got to her and she phoned his solicitor Frank Buttimer and said she wanted to tell the truth.

She was advised to get independent legal advice.

The jury was also told that a two year investigation ending in 2007 was carried out by a garda assistant commissioner into Mr Bailey's complaints and a report was compiled but they had not been allowed to see a copy of it.

They were informed that a file had been sent to the DPP nominating someone for prosecution as a result of the investigation but no one was nominated for prosecution, Mr Creed said.

He said an action for wrongful death taken by the Du Plantier family was abandoned after they heard about Ms Farrell's false statements.

The next "bombshell" was when the French authorities issued a warrant for Mr Bailey's arrest in 2010.

Ms Farrell's bogus statements were sent to the French authorities without any indication that she was no longer  prepared to stand over the statements.

Mr Bailey was later arrested on foot of the European Arrest Warrant.

On the night of this arrest there were four or five members of the press present at Bandon Garda Station.

He was later released on bail subject to conditions and had to sign on at the garda station for two years.

The extradition application was supported by the Department of Justice and upheld by the High Court which was a source of great trauma.

The jury was told the State denies all the claims made by Mr Bailey in relation to his arrest and treatment by gardaí and all other claims.

The defendants will say there was a lawful basis for his identification as a suspect.

He outlined his childhood in England, his education and his early career in journalism before he moved to Ireland.

He said almost all his friends when he lived in London were Irish or of Irish descent and he moved to Ireland for a different life having been enchanted by West Cork a few years previously.

He worked initially on a friend's farm in Waterford and then moved to Cork, where at first he worked in a fish factory but later pursued his career in journalism and writing.

His evidence continues tomorrow.