DPP to make final decision on Ian Bailey as suspect for murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier

Although chief suspect for the 1996 killing of Sophie Toscan du Plantier is dead, Garda sources say a case file will be sent to DPP for final determination in the case

Sophie Toscan du Plantier: a final decision by the DPP has the potential to offer closure to her family. Photograph: PA

The Garda investigation into the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier will still result in a file being sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) despite the death of chief suspect Ian Bailey, Garda sources have insisted.

Sources said the DPP would still review the file and decide on whether charges would have been pursued if Mr Bailey, who died of a suspected heart attack last weekend, was still alive.

They said they believed the DPP’s office would make a final determination on Mr Bailey as chief suspect after a Garda review of the case was fed into the criminal investigation. They added a final decision by the DPP had the potential to offer closure to Ms Toscan du Plantier’s family and for widespread public concern, especially in west Cork, to be allayed.

The same process has occurred in some historical sexual abuse cases, with the DPP informing the Garda and victims the case files had contained sufficient evidence to ground a prosecution had the suspect not been deceased.


The DPP has to date declined to press charges against Mr Bailey, with former DPP Eamonn Barnes previously saying the investigation was “thoroughly flawed and prejudiced” against the English journalist.

However, a number of Garda members, including detectives in the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation (NBCI), were very frustrated at those decisions, with which they strongly disagreed.

In reply to queries, Garda Headquarters said the inquiry into the murder of the French film producer, who was killed near her family holiday home at Toormore near Schull on December 23rd, 1996, was continuing.

“The Garda investigation into the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier in 1996 remains active and ongoing, as does assistance from the Garda Serious Crime Review Team,” it said.

Mr Bailey, who remained the only suspect in the case, was twice arrested for questioning about the murder. However, he was never charged after the DPP reviewed the Garda file and concluded there was insufficient evidence to prosecute. 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.

Ian Bailey remains the only suspect in the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

The Irish authorities refused, for a third time, to extradite Mr Bailey in 2020, when the High Court ruled on the matter. It agreed with an earlier ruling by the Supreme Court that section 44 of the European Arrest Warrant Act 2003 prohibited surrender because the murder was committed outside French territory.

The court found the Irish law did not allow prosecution for the same offence when committed outside its territory by a non-Irish citizen, thus precluding the extradition to France of Mr Bailey, who was a British citizen.

Ms Toscan du Plantier’s son has said he will continue to fight for “truth and justice” for his mother, and was confident that the case might yet one day be solved.

Is the Sophie Toscan du Plantier case now closed?

Listen | 18:47

In his first public comments since the death of Mr Bailey, Pierre-Louis Baudey-Vignaud said that while his family would never now be able to obtain a “confession of guilt”, they were hopeful “the discovery of new elements, the hearing of new witnesses and the revelation of possible complicity” would enable gardaí to finally close the case, 27 years after the murder.

Mr Bailey, who was due to turn 67 on January 27th, collapsed on Barrack Street in Bantry on Sunday. Members of the public came to his aid and performed CPR on him before paramedics arrived, but he was later pronounced dead. As he died of natural causes, no inquest is required.

Mr Bailey worked as a journalist in Britain, and continued with some of that work when he came to live in Ireland more than 30 years ago. He wrote some news reports about Ms Toscan du Plantier’s murder for selected newspapers in the brief period after the murder and before it became clear he was a suspect.

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Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times