Ian Bailey’s death will not halt cold case review of Sophie Toscan du Plantier murder

Death of chief suspect in film producer’s murder leaves family fearful ‘we will never reach the full truth’

A Garda cold case review of the investigation into the murder of film producer Sophie Toscan du Plantier is to continue, gardaí said, despite the death of chief suspect Ian Bailey on Sunday.

Mr Bailey, who died from a suspected heart attack, was twice arrested for questioning about the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier at her holiday home at Toormore near Schull on December 23rd, 1996 but he was never charged after the Director of Public Prosecutions reviewed the Garda file and concluded there was insufficient evidence to prosecute.

However, he was convicted in absentia in France in 2019 of the voluntary homicide of Ms Toscan du Plantier and sentenced to 25 years in jail but French attempts to have him extradited to France on an European Arrest Warrant failed after the High Court refused to approve his extradition.

Ms Toscan du Plantier’s family were “not at all happy” at the news of Mr Bailey’s death, her uncle, Jean Pierre Gazeau, said: “First because a human being has died but also because we fear the cold case review team may now not conclude its work.


“Ian Bailey was convicted by the French justice system, but we wanted him to remain alive so that the Irish justice system could also reach a final finding… We had hoped that the cold case review team would get DNA and forensic evidence to prove beyond any doubt that he was the killer.

“Now our fear is that we will never reach the full truth of what happened to my niece.”

In a statement on Sunday night, the Garda said the investigation into the murder remained “active and ongoing” with assistance from the Garda serious crime review team.

Mr Bailey’s ex-partner, Welsh born artist Jules Thomas, said after receiving news of his death, “I feel nothing, he’s gone and he isn’t in my thoughts.”

The couple separated in March 2021. Mr Bailey was convicted of assaulting Ms Thomas in 2001 at their home and he received a three-month suspended sentence. He later admitted it was his third time assaulting Ms Thomas.

Mr Bailey’s lawyer, Frank Buttimer, who represented him during court actions including fighting the French attempts to extradite him, said he believed Mr Bailey was innocent of Ms Toscan du Plantier’s murder from the moment he first met him in 1997 when Mr Bailey asked him to represent him if he was ever prosecuted.

“I felt immediately it was clear that he hadn’t committed the crime and, in my view, it was subsequently established by information I acquired that he had been the victim of State persecution after he was wrongly and falsely associated with a crime that he had nothing to do with.”

Mr Bailey, who was due to turn 67 on January 27th, collapsed on Barrack Street in Bantry sometime after 1pm on Sunday and members of the public came to his aid and performed CPR on him before paramedics arrived, but he was later pronounced dead.

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Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times