Friday 24 November 2017

Bailey claims Sophie's husband stood to benefit from her brutal murder

Ian Bailey Picture: Collins
Ian Bailey Picture: Collins
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Ian Bailey has alleged the husband of Sophie Toscan du Plantier had a motive to kill the French filmmaker.

The journalist said he believed movie producer Daniel Toscan du Plantier stood to benefit from a large insurance policy in the event of Sophie's death and was having an affair at the time.

Mr Bailey (60), who is fighting efforts to extradite him to France to stand trial for the murder, made the shock claims in an interview published today in 'Hot Press' magazine.

His claims have been greeted with disbelief by representatives of Sophie's family.

Manchester-born Mr Bailey has always denied any involvement in the December 1996 killing.

Ms Toscan du Plantier (39) was bludgeoned to death outside her holiday home near Schull, Co Cork, and Mr Bailey alleges gardaí tried to frame him for the crime.

Read More: Fitzgerald 'insulting Supreme Court' with Bailey bid

In the interview, he said he believed the killer was someone from France. He also revealed the mental and financial toll the case had taken on him over the past 20 years, saying he had massive debts, had attempted suicide and attended Alcoholics Anonymous after reaching "rock bottom".

"There was never a proper investigation. My belief has always been that the perpetrator came from France and it was a deliberate assassination," he said.

Mr Bailey accepted he had no evidence to prove this theory but insisted it should have been investigated.

Asked why Sophie would be assassinated, he said: "I believe her husband, the late Daniel Toscan du Plantier, had a large amount of insurance money on her. At the time of her murder, he was having an affair with another woman who he subsequently married, who became his fourth trophy wife, Melita."

Alain Spilliaert, a lawyer representing Sophie's parents, said the claims would be "upsetting" for her family and that of her late husband, who died in 2003.

But he declined to comment further as extradition proceedings are continuing at the High Court in Dublin.

Mr Bailey repeated previous allegations he has made of ill-treatment by gardaí, and revealed how at one point he decided to "end it all" and intended to get drunk and throw himself into the River Ilen.

Referring to the movie 'Leaving Las Vegas', where the lead character tries to drink himself to death, Mr Bailey said: "I tried to do a Leaving West Cork, and actually just finished up being arrested for being drunk and incapable in the streets of Skibbereen."

He said he had been "in a very dark place" and coped "very badly" with the stress of being identified as a murder suspect.

"I reached rock bottom and I went to AA. I became an adherent of AA. I still go to AA occasionally," he said.

Mr Bailey also said it had been a struggle to support himself financially and he was living "on a shoestring".

"I'm severely in debt. I owe €1.2m in terms of costs against the State, but that's a matter under appeal," he said.

"We live very frugally. We produce a lot of our own food. Occasionally I get little bits of work. But its tough."

The High Court is to resume hearing an application for Mr Bailey's extradition next week.

French authorities previously sought his surrender in 2010 but this application was refused by the Supreme Court in 2012.

A second extradition request was sent to Ireland last year.

Under French law, prosecutions can be brought for crimes committed against French citizens outside of France.

But Mr Bailey's legal team believes the French are relying on material gathered during a flawed Garda investigation, evidence which the Director of Public Prosecutions deemed insufficient to mount a prosecution here. They also argue that the Supreme Court had already determined there was an "absolute bar" on Mr Bailey being extradited to France.

A five-judge Supreme Court refused to surrender Mr Bailey in 2012 and four of the five judges upheld Mr Bailey's argument that section 44 of the European Arrest Warrant Act 2003 prohibits surrender because the alleged offence was committed outside French territory and Irish law does not allow prosecution for the same offence when committed outside its territory by a non-Irish citizen.

But lawyers for Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald have asked the High Court to refer the issue to the European courts for clarification.

Mr Bailey's legal team has also initiated proceedings in France aimed at halting the prosecution there.

Mr Bailey told the magazine his human rights were being infringed as long as the European Arrest Warrant remains in place.

He said that as soon as the first warrant was issued in 2010, he was never able to leave Ireland and that he is on a European intelligence register as having a warrant against him.

"I wasn't even allowed to go to my mother's funeral [in the UK]. And I never will be able to leave Ireland, as far as I can see. My human right of being able to travel freely has been robbed from me, "he said.

The full interview can be read in the latest issue of 'Hot Press', which goes on sale today.

Irish Independent

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