Sunday 8 December 2019

Locks were changed after intruder at du Plantier house, said housekeeper

MURDER SCENE: Sophie Toscan Du Plantier’s home in Schull, west Cork
MURDER SCENE: Sophie Toscan Du Plantier’s home in Schull, west Cork
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

ONE person who knew most about Sophie Toscan du Plantier's routine while staying at her holiday home in Schull was her housekeeper, Josephine Hellen.

In statements to gardai, which have been seen by the Sunday Independent, Ms Hellen, who lived locally, said she got to know Ms Du Plantier in 1991, soon after she had bought the house.

"When I first became acquainted with Sophie she used to bring a friend by the name of Bruno (Carbonnet)," said Ms Hellen. Sophie also visited with her first husband and her son and she allowed many friends to holiday there.

Ms Hellen had keys to the house and prepared it for the arrival of Ms Du Plantier or her guests.

"I would do the usual, put on the heat, do the beds and get food for the house and she would always pay me," she said. "As regards friends in this area, apart from ourselves and her two neighbours living near her and the odd workman coming to the house, she was not friendly with nobody else."

Ms Hellen claimed that Sophie suspected that someone was getting into the house to use her water and bathroom facilities while she was away. She described how once she was at the house when Sophie had just arrived from France with Bruno Carbonnet.

He complained that the bath was not clean.

"I went upstairs to check it and straight away I saw it was used. I cleaned it on the Thursday and this was the Friday when they came, so it was used on Thursday night.

"We checked the house to see where he came in and the window of the porch was open, so this was the only place he could have got in and used the bath."

She said Sophie then decided to change the locks.

"I discussed setting up a trap with Sophie about catching whoever was using the bath, but it seemed that the changing of the locks had changed it or stopped it."

Ms Hellen was one of the last people to speak to Sophie on the night before she was murdered.

She phoned Ms Du Plantier at 10pm, when she was still up. When Sophie's body was found in a laneway the following morning, she had her boots on and was wearing a dressing gown.

Ms Hellen told detectives: "I knew Sophie in all probability was up on the Sunday night because, number one, Sophie never went upstairs with her boots on.

"To me her boots would never have been tied in bed and her dressing gown was on, as far as I know.

"I think Sophie was sitting where the wine glass was by the open fire, as she loved the open fire, when someone could have walked in, so she came out. Maybe she thought it was me but we had an agreement for Monday morning."

Sunday Independent

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