Trip to mark Sophie anniversary 'too painful' for family
THE family of slain French film executive Sophie Toscan du Plantier (39) will not travel to Ireland to mark their daughter's 16th anniversary because the emotions are now too painful.
Georges (87) and Marguerite Bouniol (85) prefer to avoid their daughter's murder site on the exact anniversary and will instead travel to Ireland early in the New Year.
The Paris-based couple travel to Ireland almost every year to remember their only daughter, who was battered to death just two days before Christmas in 1996.
Her blood-soaked body was found at the foot of an isolated laneway leading to her holiday home at Toormore outside Schull, west Cork. No one has ever been charged with her killing.
Georges and Marguerite prefer to travel to Sophie's holiday home, which is now owned by their grandson, Pierre-Louis, in January and avoid the emotion-charged December anniversary.
This month, they hope to spend time over Christmas in France with their new great-granddaughter, also named Sophie. "It is very difficult for them . . . you can understand perfectly why they do not come (to Ireland) before Christmas," their solicitor Alain Spilliaert told the Irish Independent.
Mrs Bouniol has been left increasingly frail by health problems and, given their advanced years, the emotion of the occasion is now becoming too much for them.
Sophie's aunt, Marie-Madeline Opalka, admitted that when they visited Toormore, the family could "feel her (Sophie's) presence in the house".
A friend of the elderly couple, former French Consul in Cork Francoise Letellier, said their major fear now was that they would not live to see justice done for Sophie. "They are really old now and worried that they will die without their daughter's killer being brought to justice," she said.
A garda 'cold case' team is reviewing the murder file, which, since 1996, has been re-checked three times for any clues or new information that may have been overlooked.
A French probe into the murder was launched four years ago by Paris-based Magistrate Patrick Gachon. The French sought the extradition of Manchester-born former freelance journalist, Ian Bailey (54). That extradition bid was unanimously rejected by the Supreme Court.
Mr Bailey, who has consistently denied any involvement, claimed that efforts had been made to frame him for the crime. He is now suing the State for wrongful arrest.