Leads followed new TV documentaries
Senior gardaí believe a cold case review of the Sophie Toscan du Plantier (39) murder file is now “inevitable”.
However, a senior Garda source indicated that such a review will only take place once all new contacts over the case have been carefully examined as part of the ongoing murder investigation.
West Cork Gardaí are considering various new pieces of information generated as a consequence of the intense media focus on the killing of the French mother-of-one.
Two television documentaries were released last month on the unsolved killing – one by Sky and the other by Netflix.
A total of five books will be published on the case over a 12-month period with a podcast series also being updated.
Gardaí confirmed they are now examining potential new information on the case.
Central to this is a claim by former Schull shopkeeper Marie Farrell that she can now identify a man in a black coat seen outside her premises in the days before Sophie’s murder in December 1996.
The information was passed to gardaí by Jim Sheridan, the Academy Award-nominated director who produced the Sky series, though the information does not feature in his documentary.
Ms Farrell has already been interviewed by gardaí in connection with her claim that she can now identify the person as an individual known to Sophie’s late husband, Daniel du Plantier, who died in 2003.
The Schull shopkeeper was hailed as the ‘star witness’ of the 2003 defamation action taken by Ian Bailey (64), against eight Irish and UK newspapers.
She had previously identified Ian Bailey as the individual spotted outside her shop.
However, she dramatically recanted her sworn evidence in 2005 – and claimed she only made the statements because she was put under duress by gardaí. Detectives are also following up on other contacts arising from the flood of publicity on the case ranging from vehicle movements to background information about already-known evidence.
“We will be looking at every possible contact and piece of information,” a senior Garda source said.
“This is an active, ongoing investigation and we would urge anyone with information no matter how trivial they may think it to be, to contact us about it.”
Privately, west Cork gardaí are convinced a fresh cold case review will be ordered into the matter once all the new contacts have been examined and considered.
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris is already considering a request from Mr Bailey for a review of the case file.
However, he denied that any formal review has already been sanctioned.
Sophie Toscan du Plantier was found beaten to death near her Toormore holiday home outside Schull on December 23, 1996.
No one has ever been charged with the film executive’s killing in Ireland despite one of the biggest murder investigations ever mounted by gardaí.
Mr Bailey has urged a review of the entire Garda case file in light of recent development, arguing it would finally prove his innocence.
He has vehemently protested his innocence in relation to the crime for 24 years – but was convicted in absentia of the killing by a Paris court in May 2019.
His legal team dismissed the French prosecution as “a show trial” and “a mockery of justice”.
Ireland’s DPP ruled Mr Bailey did not have a case to answer after he was twice arrested by gardaí in 1997 and 1998, but released without charge on each occasion.
On three occasions, French bids to have Mr Bailey extradited to Paris were rejected by Irish courts.