EFFORTS by French authorities to bring a prosecution over the murder of filmmaker Sophie Toscan du Plantier have been thrown into crisis after investigators were unable to get key documents from the original garda file.
The Irish Independent has learnt that the French have been unable to get access to a series of diaries kept by the prime suspect in the case, Ian Bailey.
The diaries, which contain details of assaults committed by Mr Bailey on his partner, as well as a series of lurid sex fantasies, formed a key part of the original garda file on the west Cork killing.
But when French investigators went looking for the material, they found the original diaries had been returned to Mr Bailey.
The development comes as a major stumbling block for the French as they require the original diaries and not copies if the material is to be used in evidence.
The only way the French team under magistrate Judge Patrick Gachon can now get possession of the original diaries is if Mr Bailey agrees to hand them over.
A Supreme Court ruling is expected in the next eight weeks on whether Manchester-born Mr Bailey (53), a former journalist, can be extradited to Paris for trial over the killing of the mother of one on December 23, 1996.
The murder remains one of most high-profile unsolved crimes in the history of the State.
A lawyer representing Sophie's family told the Irish Independent the Paris police team was frustrated at not being able to obtain the diaries, which they viewed as a crucial part of the case they were building against Mr Bailey.
The diaries were seized from Mr Bailey shortly after Sophie (39) was bludgeoned to death outside her holiday home in Toormore, near Schull, Co Cork, 15 years ago.
Mr Bailey became a suspect and was twice arrested and questioned. However, he was never charged and gardai were later ordered by a court to hand back some personal items, including a number of diaries.
The Director of Public Prosecutions conceded in 2008 that no charges were being contemplated in the case.
The admission was the spark for a French-led investigation to be set up, led by Mr Gachon. It is possible under laws which allow inquiries into the deaths of French nationals abroad.
Mr Bailey -- who has vehemently protested his innocence -- is appealing his extradition and has vowed to fight it to the European Court of Justice if necessary.