Saturday 19 October 2019

'Bailey will be convicted in grotesque miscarriage of justice'

Accused: Ian Bailey. Photo: Collins Courts
Accused: Ian Bailey. Photo: Collins Courts
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

Ian Bailey will be found guilty of murdering Sophie Toscan du Plantier and sentenced to life in a French jail in a "grotesque miscarriage of justice", his lawyer believes.

The man the Garda suspected but failed to charge in this country with the film producer's murder 23 years ago goes on trial in absentia in France tomorrow.

Victim: Ms Toscan du Plantier. Photo: Handout/PA Wire
Victim: Ms Toscan du Plantier. Photo: Handout/PA Wire

"It is my belief that he is going to be convicted," Frank Buttimer, his solicitor, told the Sunday Independent. "It will be a grotesque miscarriage of justice... He will be sentenced to life imprisonment and there will probably be a further pursuit of him in this country for extradition to serve his sentence, for an offence that he could not be extradited for in the first place."

The trial is the culmination of 23 years of police investigations here and in France into the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier, and the legal challenges by Ian Bailey, who was the Garda's suspect for her murder. Mr Bailey has denied any involvement in or knowledge of the killing.

Ms Toscan du Plantier's battered body was found in the garden of her holiday home outside Schull, Co Cork, in December 1996.

Mr Bailey will be tried by three magistrates at the Cour d'Assises in Paris. The evidence is believed to be largely based on the original Garda investigation, which was rejected by Irish prosecutors as providing insufficient grounds to charge Mr Bailey.

Statements that originated in the Garda file will be admitted as evidence, and there will be direct testimony from witnesses who have complied with summonses served on them last week by French authorities. An estimated 30 Irish witnesses have been requested to attend.

"The prosecutor will request as many witnesses as necessary to give information to the criminal courts. I do not know yet who is going to be there or not. We will see on Monday," said attorney Alain Spilleart, who has represented Ms Toscan du Plantier's family for many years.

Mr Spilleart said he expects the magistrates to deliver the verdict by this Friday evening. "The goal, for us, for everybody I guess, is to have this case resolved one day, the sooner the better. On that we are all agreed," he said.

Ms Toscan du Plantier's son, Pierre Louis Baudey Vignaud, travelled to Goleen, West Cork, to appeal to witnesses to testify against Ian Bailey. His partner, Jules Thomas, and her three daughters, along with the discredited Garda witness Marie Farrell and a large number of retired gardai, are among those summoned to attend.

Mr Bailey was twice arrested but the Director of Public Prosecutions refused to prosecute him because of a lack of evidence.

The French twice tried to extradite Ian Bailey and failed.

Dermot Walsh, a professor of Law at Kent University, in a legal analysis of the case said yesterday the case was heading towards "a serious miscarriage of justice" and was an "astounding abdication of sovereignty" that "degraded the integrity of the Irish criminal process".

Sunday Independent

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