Saturday 24 August 2019

Bailey admitted at least three times to killing Sophie, Paris court hears

Journalist Ian Bailey is on trial in Paris ‘in absentia’ accused of the murder of filmmaker Sophie Toscan du Plantier. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Journalist Ian Bailey is on trial in Paris ‘in absentia’ accused of the murder of filmmaker Sophie Toscan du Plantier. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Sophie Toscan du Plantier (Family/PA)
Sophie Toscan du Plantier. Photo: Family Handout/PA Wire
A general view of the room in the Palais de Justice de Paris, where the trial is taking place (Steve Parsons/PA)

Sarah Collins

JOURNALIST Ian Bailey admitted to the murder of French woman Sophie Toscan du Plantier on at least three occasions, witnesses have told a Paris court.

Mr Bailey is being tried for murder in France.

He has consistently denied the charge, and has described the Paris case as “a show trial”.

The DPP ruled out taking an prosecution against him more than a decade ago.

Sophie Toscan du Plantier (Family/PA)
Sophie Toscan du Plantier (Family/PA)

French investigators have been unable to find any physical evidence linking Mr Bailey to the crime after they began their own probe in 2008.

But the court heard testimonies from three witnesses - two of whom were present yesterday - who spoke to Mr Bailey in the aftermath of the December 1996 killing.

Former ‘Sunday Times’ editor Helen Callanan said Mr Bailey admitted to the murder on 1 February 1997, when they were discussing rumours that he was a suspect. “I did it, yes, I killed her to revive my career as a journalist,” he reportedly said.

His acquaintance, Bill Fuller, testified in court yesterday to the fact that Mr Bailey appeared “happy that his journalism career had taken off again”. He didn’t have a lot of money prior to 1997, Mr Fuller said, and had even worked with him for a few days as a gardener.

When he visited Mr Bailey a short time after the crime, Mr Fuller said the man became agitated and accused Mr Fuller of the murder.

“You saw her in the shop, you saw her tight arse, you fancied her, you went up there to try to see what you could get,” Mr Bailey reportedly said.

“You tried to calm her, but she was scared, she ran away screaming, so you chased her to calm her down,” he went on. “You stove [sic] something into the back of her head, you realised you went too far, and you had to finish her off.”

Mr Fuller retorted: “That sounds like the sort of thing you would do.”

Mr Bailey replied: “Funny you should say that - that’s how I got to meet [his partner] Jules [Thomas]. I saw her tight arse, but she let me in.”

On February 4 1997, Mr Bailey drove 14-year-old Malachi Reed home from school. He was drunk, according to Mr Reed’s mother, Amanda Reed, who was in court yesterday.

In the car, Mr Bailey allegedly told her son: “I went up to her [Sophie] and smashed her brains in with a rock.”

She said she her son was “absolutely terrified” after the incident.

“I feel this man is a very bad man,” Ms Reed said. “He was a kind of unpredictable person. He was always trying to be the centre of attention, singing songs and reciting poetry.”

The presiding judge, Frédérique Aline, focused much of her attention yesterday on the testimony of shopkeeper Marie Farrell, who initially said she had seen Mr Bailey close to Ms du Plantier’s home on the night of the murder. However, in 2006, she retracted her statement.

Judge Aline also read out a statement from Skibbereen business owner and amateur photographer, Patrick Lowney, who said a man in a wig had asked him to develop some photos, which showed “a woman lying on the ground, with a gate behind her”. The man “became uneasy”, reportedly grabbed the negatives and destroyed them.

The other main focus yesterday was Sophie Toscan du Plantier herself, and how she had come to be alone, in an isolated house in west Cork just days before Christmas, with her son and husband both back in France.

Gilbert Jacob, a friend of Sophie’s husband, told the court Ms du Plantier was very deep and reserved, and often needed an escape or respite to recharge.

Her best friend, Agnès Thomas, said Ms du Plantier had just come out of a “complicated crisis” in her marriage that Christmas and was looking for a place to relax.

The case continues.

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