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Ian Bailey found guilty of the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier by French court

  • The court handed down a sentence of 25 years for murder
  • The court says it will issue a new warrant for Mr Bailey’s arrest
  • Former journalist has consistently denied all charges
  • His lawyer dismisses the proceedings in Paris as a 'farce'

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Ian Bailey who was convicted in absentia by a French court of the murder of the French film producer, Sophie Toscan du Plantier Pic:Mark Condren
31.5.2019

Ian Bailey who was convicted in absentia by a French court of the murder of the French film producer, Sophie Toscan du Plantier Pic:Mark Condren 31.5.2019

Ian Bailey who was convicted in absentia by a French court of the murder of the French film producer, Sophie Toscan du Plantier Pic:Mark Condren 31.5.2019

A COURT in France has found Ian Bailey guilty of killing French film producer Sophie Toscan du Plantier in west Cork in 1996.

The court handed down a sentence of 25 years and says it will issue a new warrant for Mr Bailey’s arrest.

Presiding judge Frédérique Aline said “there is sufficient evidence” to convict Mr Bailey (62), despite the fact that he wasn’t prosecuted via the Irish courts.

Mr Bailey, a former journalist, has consistently denied the charges.

After deliberating for around five hours, presiding judge Frédérique Aline and two other judges returned the verdict, recapping the details of what she described as an “extremely violent” murder.

She said that due to the violence of the crime, it was “undeniable” that Ms du Plantier had been killed with “homicidal intent”.

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Sophie Toscan du Plantier

Sophie Toscan du Plantier

Sophie Toscan du Plantier

The trial that has been labelled a “farce” by Frank Buttimer, Mr Bailey's lawyer.

Speaking on RTE Radio One, Mr Buttimer said he was not surprised by the verdict. “I am not surprised, I predicted this would be a rubber-stamping exercise.” The lawyer went on to say this was a "gross miscarriage of justice."

"They will seek the removal of the innocent Mr Bailey, to serve a sentence for a crime that he did not commit," he added.

Mr Buttimer pointed out that in 2012, the Irish Supreme Court decided that Mr Bailey could not be extradited for the crime “for which the French have now put him on trial, so called trial, and found him guilty.”

The lawyer said that Mr Bailey has always been in jeopardy of being arrested if he left the country ever since the European Arrest warrant was applied for in 2008. “In fact, he’s been protected by Ireland… its always been the case that he’s been a prisoner since 2008."

“Had he gone back to his mother’s funeral for example in and around 2011… he would have been arrested... because of the European Arrest Warrant, for his removal to France for some kind of criminal prosecution investigation then, would have caused that triggering effect.”

The charges against Mr Bailey were brought by the French courts in July 2016, when a second request for extradition was made by French authorities. It was rejected by the Irish courts.

Most of Ms du Plantier’s family were there to hear the verdict, though her elderly mother did not attend Friday. She had been in court the preceding three days.

On Thursday her son, brother, aunt and uncle made emotional please for justice.

Her son, Pierre-Louise Baudey Vignaud spoke of the “insulting” way his mother was portrayed in the press at the time of the murder.

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French Public Prosecutor Jean-Pierre Bonthoux said the verdict should be a “first step in a process” that should eventually lead to Mr Bailey being tried in person, and a new warrant issued for his arrest.

“I hope one day to see Mr Bailey in this court, and to see his lawyers defend him,” Bonthoux told the Paris criminal court on Friday morning.

Mr Bonthoux Mr Bailey’s absence - and that of his legal team - was a form of “cowardice”, and blasted him for using the media to mount his defence.

“It would be laughable if it weren’t so tragic,” Mr Bonthoux said. “Mr Bailey is making fun of us.”

Mr Bailey was tried in absentia for the murder of Ms du Plantier, who was beaten to death with a heavy object - either a flat stone or a breeze block, police believe - on the night of 22-23 December 1996.

She had been staying alone at her remote holiday home in Toormore, near Schull, Co. Cork, and police believe she answered the door to her attacker, before trying to flee the house. Her body was found a small distance away, near the side of a road.

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