A former news editor of the Sunday Tribune has told the High Court that Ian Bailey told her he killed Sophie Toscan du Plantier to resurrect his career.

Helen Callanan said she was flabbergasted when Mr Bailey told her: "It was me, I did it, I killed her. I did it to resurrect my career".

Ms Callanan said the comment was made during a serious conversation she had with him to challenge him when she discovered the journalist she had working on the story was in fact the suspect.

She said it was the single biggest fiasco she had ever encountered.

It was inappropriate in so many ways and she felt he had deceived and duped her.

She said it was damaging to the newspaper's brand and it had not occurred to Mr Bailey, whom she knew as Eoin Bailey, to extricate himself from the story as soon as there was a whiff of suspicion.

"The seriousness of it didn't seem to have occurred to him. The moral compass was broken," she said.

When she discovered he was a suspect, she said she had to challenge him and his reaction was strange.

"I said Eoin I've been told you're a suspect and he just kept asking who told you that? He was quite cool and calm and kept asking that."

She said he had never apologised and had never contacted her except for one occasion when he phoned her from a phone box on Baggot Street where the newspaper's offices were located but she refused to go down and meet him.

During cross-examination she denied she was trying to blacken Mr Bailey.

She also refused to name the person who told her he was a suspect.

"I'm not going to breach a confidence. It was not the gardaí and in fact I rang them to complain that they had not told me."

Asked again to name the source of the information, she said: "If the court directs me to do something that is an entirely different matter but as a news editor it would be wrong of me to disclose that."

Mr Justice Hedigan refused to direct Ms Callanan to name the source of her information.

He told the jury the issue of journalistic privilege was often complex but the law was that unless there was a pressing social need or it was in the interests of justice a journalist could not be compelled to disclose their sources.

During cross-examination, Ms Callanan said she did not know how she was supposed to describe the level of shock she felt to discover the person who was reporting on the story was a suspect and was also now admitting the killing to her.

Ms Callanan said she appreciated that Mr Bailey now says his comment was a regrettable black joke but she said at the time she took it as a confession.

It was put to her that no one could have taken it as anything other than black humour.

"I did not find it humorous," she said.

She said there was no jocularity in the conversation, it was a serious conversation and she will never forget it.

It was put to her that gardaí had put the comments onto a new level when she reported it.

It was also suggested to her that she did not like Mr Bailey.

She said she had never met him.

Garda who nominated Bailey as suspect gives evidence

The garda who nominated Mr Bailey as a murder suspect four days after the discovery of the body of Ms Toscan du Plantier said he did so because of his history of violence towards his partner and the fact that he lived just 4km from the scene.

Martin Malone said he nominated Mr Bailey as a suspect on 27 December after the "crumbling point" when he discovered Ian bailey had called to another neighbour four days after the murder, taking a route that would have brought him close to the scene while it was cordoned off.

Mr Malone also said he thought it strange that Mr Bailey did not ask him any questions about the murder victim when he met him at the scene on 23 December 1996.

Mr Malone said Mr Bailey was very well dressed and said he was a freelance journalist.

He said he "got a fright" when he saw Mr Bailey arriving at the scene because he knew him from a previous time when Jules Thomas had come to the garda station to withdraw a complaint about a serious assault.

He had been told that Mr Bailey had taken a very circuitous route to the home of another neighbour, Alfie Lyons, which would have brought him very close to the murder scene.

This raised a suspicion in his head. He said he was astonished and furious that Mr Bailey had gone so close to the scene when the area was cordoned off.

He said Mr Bailey had been allowed past by other gardaí because he was delivering messages to Mr Lyons. 

He began to question why Mr Bailey had gone there and wondered if he had gone there to contaminate the scene or to ask Mr Lyons if he had seen or heard anything.

However in cross examination he accepted it could be argued that Mr Bailey as a journalist would have wanted to ask Mr Lyons questions.

He said he nominated Mr Bailey as a suspect on 27 December because he knew his history of assaulting Ms Thomas and the fact that he lived just 4km from the victim's house.

"He was practically a neighbour," he said.

Garda denies pulling clump of hair

The court also heard a former garda who took a hair sample from Ms Thomas deny pulling a tuft of hair from her head in an inappropriate way.

Pat Joy, who is now retired, said he totally rejected a claim by Ms Thomas that he had pulled a clump of hair from her head while taking a hair sample on New Year's Day 1997.

He said in order to get a proper hair sample for DNA analysis single hairs had to be pulled to leave the root intact.

He would never have pulled a clump of hair from someone's head and had never had a complaint from anyone in all his time taking such samples, he said.

He also said he totally rejected claims that he smelled of alcohol at the time and said he rarely took a drink and probably did not have any drink at all over that Christmas period.

He said he had no complaints from Ms Thomas at the time and was invited to have tea or coffee, which he declined.