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Sophie Toscan du Plantier's murder left a scar on the West Cork psyche that has still not healed

Ralph Riegel


Sophie Toscan du Plantier's death sparked one of the biggest garda investigations in history. Ralph Riegel, the author of a new book on the brutal crime, looks back on the case and the failure to bring the killer to justice

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Unresolved: Sophie Toscan and her son Pierre-Louis Baudey-Vignaud in 1990

Unresolved: Sophie Toscan and her son Pierre-Louis Baudey-Vignaud in 1990

Sophie’s parents Marguerite and Georges Bouniol during a visit to the murder scene

Sophie’s parents Marguerite and Georges Bouniol during a visit to the murder scene

The murder scene of Sophie Toscan du Plantier in West Cork. Photo by Mark Condren

The murder scene of Sophie Toscan du Plantier in West Cork. Photo by Mark Condren

Son: Pierre-Louis Baudey-Vignaud

Son: Pierre-Louis Baudey-Vignaud

Legal bid: Ian Bailey. Photo by Mark Condren

Legal bid: Ian Bailey. Photo by Mark Condren

A Dream of Death by Ralph Riegel

A Dream of Death by Ralph Riegel

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Unresolved: Sophie Toscan and her son Pierre-Louis Baudey-Vignaud in 1990

Almost a decade ago, I attended a ceremony on a chilly hillside outside Schull to mark the anniversary of Sophie Toscan du Plantier's death.

Her parents, Georges and Marguerite Bouniol, are now too old and frail to travel from France for the annual ceremony, but for more than 15 years they came to West Cork each December, laid a wreath of lilies at the Celtic stone cross that marks the spot where their daughter's body was found, then went to Mass in Goleen. Each year, they would appeal to the public to help with the garda investigation.

I attended almost every year but, on this occasion it involved the staging of a candlelit vigil at the stone cross. As I stood a short distance away on the darkened laneway with a photographer, the family insisted that we come into their daughter's beloved holiday home to sit by the fire, have a warm drink and await the start of the ceremony. Neither of us wanted to intrude at this solemn time, but they insisted with a hospitality that reminded me that sometimes life inflicts unforgivably evil things on good people.