Monday 19 August 2019

Sophie Toscan du Plantier suffered multiple blows to the head and body with blunt object - Ian Bailey murder trial gets underway in Paris

Victim: Ms Toscan du Plantier. Photo: Handout/PA Wire
Victim: Ms Toscan du Plantier. Photo: Handout/PA Wire
Sophie Toscan du Plantier (Family Handout/PA)
Ian Bailey still lives in Cork (Niall Carson/PA)

Tess de la Mare

THE trial in Paris of Ian Bailey for the murder of French film producer Sophie Toscan du Plantier more than 22 years ago has been told she suffered multiple blows to the head and body.

Mr Bailey (62) who is based in Co Cork, is being tried in absentia for the murder of the mother of one on isolated hillside in Toormore, near Schull, west Cork, two days before Christmas in 1996.

The case is being heard by a judge and two professional magistrates at the Cour d’Assises in Paris.

On the first day of trial, presiding judge Frederique Aline - the president of the court - read out the details of the brutal killing of Ms Toscan du Plantier.

Ian Bailey denies involvement in the death of Sophie Toscan du Plantier (Niall Carson/PA)
Ian Bailey denies involvement in the death of Sophie Toscan du Plantier (Niall Carson/PA)

The court heard that the victim suffered multiple blows to the head and body with a blunt object, and that a breeze block was lying close to her body covered in bloodstains.

The attack had been so violent that blood stains were found spattered up to a metre square around the body, and she was wearing only long johns, a T-shirt and walking boots without socks.

Judge Aline listed the many twists and turns of the case has taken over the years including the testimony of Marie Farrell - a local woman who initially claimed she had seen Bailey walking towards the victim’s home on the night of the killing, a claim she later retracted.

The court heard how in the days after the killing, several witnesses said Mr Bailey had scratches in his hands and forearms, which he claimed he’d acquired while cutting down a Christmas tree.

The first live witness was private investigator Michel Larousse, who was tasked with giving evidence on the victim’s personality after conducting interviews with her friends and family.

He said Ms Toscan du Plantier was "very independent", adding "at times she wanted to be with people and there were moments she wanted to be on her own".

Mr Larousse said Sophie "wasn’t afraid of much" even in situations that carried a risk.

He gave the example of the time she had allowed a homeless person to sleep in her car, and the time she had invited another homeless man to have a meal with her.

Mr Larousse said the evidence indicated the person who killed Ms Toscan du Plantier was not someone she was afraid of and she didn’t see it coming.

The victim’s son Pierre-Louis Baudey-Vignaud, who was 14 when she was murdered, has been at the forefront of the family’s campaign for justice and was seated in the court along with her brothers, uncle and parents.

The case in one of this country’s most high-profile unsolved murder cases and the circumstances around Ms Toscan du Plantier’s death have recently reached a global audience through the popular podcast series West Cork.

The trial has been scheduled for one week, with a day off on Thursday, with the court due to return its verdict on Friday.

However, very few of the witnesses in the Irish investigation are expected to attend.

Mr Bailey who was born in Manchester has repeatedly denied any involvement in her killing.

Ms Toscan du Plantier was married to the late Daniel Toscan du Plantier, a celebrated French film director.

PA Media

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