Thursday 25 May 2017

Court to get 'explosive' DPP file on Sophie case

Ralph Riegel and Cormac McQuinn

A REPORT by the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) containing "devastating" criticisms of the Sophie Toscan du Plantier murder probe will be revealed in court next week.

The challenge by "self-confessed" murder suspect Ian Bailey (54) to a French extradition bid now hinges on the key document, which has been lodged with the Supreme Court.

Ms Toscan du Plantier was discovered battered to death at the foot of a laneway leading to her isolated holiday home at Toormore outside Schull in west Cork on December 23, 1996.

It is understood that the file will offer, for the first time, an insight into the DPP's view of how the entire garda investigation was handled.

One source last night described the DPP report as "explosive" with its contents representing "a devastating indictment" of the entire investigation.

The source added that the report will also detail the precise allegations at the centre of Mr Bailey's claims of "breathtaking wrongdoing" by state officials. The 45-page document, which was compiled in 2000-2001, is a summary and critique of the garda murder probe -- and among the problems with the original investigation were:

• A delay in a pathologist attending the scene.

• Issues over the preservation of the crime scene.

• The importance attached to specific witness statements.

The garda probe was also hampered by the lack of eye- witnesses to events of December 22/23, the lack of a murder weapon and the absence of any DNA or forensic clues as to the identity of the killer. The document was studied by the DPP's office and, it is understood, the Attorney-General's office was also briefed on its contents.

The document was lodged together with sworn affidavits by Mr Bailey's legal team. They are now asking the Supreme Court to order the High Court to re-hear the original extradition case in light of the new evidence.

The Supreme Court will deal with the legal wrangle on Friday -- amid mounting concern from Ms Toscan du Plantier's family that the entire extradition process now faces major delays.

The document will be debated publicly when the court rules on Mr Bailey's bid to have the entire extradition process referred back to the High Court.

Trial

Last May, the High Court ordered Mr Bailey's extradition to France after a landmark hearing. No one has ever been extradited from Ireland to another jurisdiction for trial over an incident that happened here.

Paris-based magistrate Patrick Gachon has been leading a three-year probe into the French mother of one's killing.

The Manchester-born reporter -- who is currently a law student -- is vigorously fighting extradition and has repeatedly protested his innocence. He has maintained that attempts were made to frame him for the crime. His legal team want the High Court to re-hear the extradition case after claiming the new evidence will have "a significant" impact on their arguments.

Ms Toscan du Plantier's parents, Georges and Marguerite Bouniol, intend to travel to Ireland on January 10 to mark the 15th anniversary of their daughter's death.

Irish Independent

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