Ian Bailey entitled to new trial if extradited, says legal expert

UL lecturer Dr Andrea Ryan believes matter likely to end up before Supreme Court again

Ian Bailey will be entitled to have a new trial if he is extradited to France following his conviction for the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, according to an expert in criminal law.

Mr Bailey, an English national living in Co Cork, was tried in Paris in absentia, and the evidence used to convict him for the 1996 killing was not challenged on his behalf.

He is expected to challenge the European Arrest Warrant that Ms Toscan de Plantier’s family has said will now be issued.

Any warrant seeking his extradition would have to be on the basis of a new trial being available to him where he would have a right to raise all the issues he wanted to and present new evidence, according to Limerick law lecturer Dr Andrea Ryan.


Dr Ryan, a director of the Centre for Crime, Justice and Victim Studies at the University of Limerick, said the Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that Mr Bailey could not be extradited on foot of a European Arrest Warrant issued during what was then the investigative phase of the French criminal process.

The court turned down the extradition request on two grounds: one was because the French system had not yet charged Mr Bailey; the second was that, because he was not an Irish citizen, he could not be extradited by Ireland for an “extra-territorial” prosecution process .

Both these situations have since changed.

Law change

A new warrant would be based on a conviction, and the law in Ireland changed, just last month, so that a person normally resident here can be extradited for non-territorial murder prosecutions.

The Supreme Court decided in 2012 not to rule on two other arguments that had been raised on behalf of Mr Bailey, and these could feature in any challenge to a new warrant.

These are that it would be a breach of Mr Bailey’s fundamental rights for him to be extradited, and that the Director of Public Prosecutions had already decided that proceedings should not be brought against him.

Dr Ryan said she suspected the matter was likely to end up before the Supreme Court again.

She said the whole idea of the European Arrest Warrant system was that, while systems might differ in how they worked, each jurisdiction trusted the other.

She said that even if the Irish courts refused to extradite Mr Bailey, the warrant would remain live and would “flash up in the system” as soon as he crossed a border. “So he is effectively a prisoner on the island for the moment.”

Speaking on RTÉ radio’s This Week, Alain Spilliaert, a lawyer acting for Ms Toscan du Plantier’s family, said the next step was for a warrant to be issued and that it was a different situation now that Mr Bailey had been convicted “after what is considered to be a fair trial, in absentia”.

Colm Keena

Colm Keena

Colm Keena is an Irish Times journalist. He was previously legal-affairs correspondent and public-affairs correspondent