Wednesday 20 November 2019

Mystery of fishing village murder

Mystery still surrounds the violent killing of a French film-maker in a scenic fishing village in west cork.

The beaten body of Sophie Toscan du Plantier was found in an isolated pathway near her holiday home at Toormore near Schull, Co Cork, two days before Christmas in 1996.

Fourteen years on her grief-stricken elderly parents, Georges and Marguerite Bouniol, still make the painful annual pilgrim from Paris to the tranquil spot to mark the anniversary of their daughter's unsolved murder.

The case also haunted her husband, French film-maker Daniel du Plantier, until his death in 2003.

The extradition of a British man to France for questioning is the last glimmer of hope her family have that someone might finally be brought to justice for the 39-year-old's tragic death.

But Ian Bailey, the self-confessed chief murder suspect in the investigation, strenuously denies any involvement in her death.

The 53-year-old was arrested twice by detectives but never charged.

When no criminal charges were brought in Ireland, officials in Paris appointed Patrick Gachon, an investigating magistrate, to re-examine the case.

Under French law, authorities can investigate the suspicious death of a citizen abroad but they cannot compel witnesses to go to Paris for questioning and issued a European arrest warrant for Bailey.

The Manchester-born man was working as a freelance journalist in Cork when Ms Tocsan de Plantier was killed and reported on the crime that shocked locals in the area until his arrest.

The recent law graduate still lives in Schull with his partner Jules Thomas, who has remained by his side over the years.

He recently spoke of the trauma of being implicated in the murder case.

"Events surrounding the arrest have caused me great personal damage and distress," he said in an affidavit.

"I was unable to live a normal life in the way I'd otherwise have done."

PA Media

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