A woman’s statement to gardaí — as well as the former suspect’s requests to garda boss Drew Harris — have led to cold-case murder review
A witness who claims she saw Ian Bailey attempting to clean bloodstained clothing a day after the murder of Sophie T oscan du Plantier has given a fresh statement to the revived garda investigation.
The woman, who lives overseas, has now given a “key statement” to cold-case investigators, and this is forming an “integral part” of the reinvestigation into the unsolved 1996 murder in West Cork.
Sources have confirmed she is a “credible witness” and her statement is seen as a “cornerstone” of the renewed garda inquiry announced last week.
The woman has provided gardaí with new details in her recent statement alleging she saw Mr Bailey attempting to clean, and potentially even dispose of, bloodstained clothing at his home the day after the French filmmaker was found murdered.
When contacted, Mr Bailey said: “I obviously don’t know what the statement says.
“It’s my understanding that she previously retracted a false statement she made about it. I believe she also previously apologised to Jules [Mr Bailey’s ex-partner] about making this false statement.”
The former journalist, who was arrested twice following the murder and has vehemently protests his innocence ever since, said the cold-case review was something he has been petitioning Garda Commissioner Drew Harris to direct for some time.
“This review would not be happening if I did not write on three occasions to Drew Harris. So I welcome it. The Garda have not been in touch with me yet, I presume they will. I am fully prepared to co-operate with the reinvestigation. I do not know who murdered Sophie Toscan du Plantier and I do not need to know. I just know it was nothing to do with me,” Mr Bailey said.
It comes as the uncle of Ms Toscan du Plantier this weekend said the family welcome the “great news” that the Garda Serious Crime Review Team (SCRT) is conducting a full cold-case review of the murder.
Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Jean-Pierre Gazeau said the family did not want to get their hopes up too much, but said he had every faith in the garda investigation.
“If it does not go to the DPP, we will have to accept our sad fate. If there is no real criminal trial in Ireland, that would be a kind of failure. We do not want to get our hopes up too much, because so many times over the past 26 years, we have been given false hope,” he said.
“We certainly believe this review is progress. I am sure that gardaí would not have ordered the review if there was not a sound basis for doing so, such as new witness statements. We believe that a review could progress the case.
“Of course we have hope now again, but we must stay pragmatic. So we remain cautious, but optimistic.”
Mr Bailey has repeatedly denied any involvement in the killing. He was twice arrested but never charged in connection with the woman’s murder near Toormore, outside Schull in Co Cork.
Mr Gazeau said it was his belief the journalist-turned-poet was now once again thrust into the spotlight, a position he alleged Mr Bailey enjoyed.
“Ian Bailey, I would not like to be in his place right now. He lives in another world. But in reality, this matter is in the hands of the Garda now,” he said.
“The possibility for new DNA evidence is very positive. We will never stop searching for justice for Sophie and proof about her death. We need to know what happened to her that tragic night.”
She was found beaten to death outside her holiday home on December 23, 1996.
Gardaí had previously identified Mr Bailey as the chief suspect.
The DPP has twice ruled there was not enough evidence to charge him.
Mr Gazeau said he believed the renewed publicity surrounding the case led, in some part, to the reinvestigation. He said he hoped it would eventually result in “justice being served”.
Speaking to Newstalk on Friday, Ms Toscan du Plantier’s son, Pierre-Louis Baudey-Vignaud, said he can never find peace.
“Twenty-five years looking for justice, taking me a lot of time to fight, for speaking with the Irish police, to the French police, to do the trial. You can never find some peace with this sort of thing,” he said.
“Every day, every week, for 25 years I have information, I have an exchange with journalists, with people in Ireland, with people in France. So every day it’s a nightmare.”