The Paris high criminal court has convicted Ian Bailey of French woman Sophie Toscan du Plantier's murder, more than two decades after her badly beaten body was found near her west Cork holiday home
The English man (62) was sentenced in absentia to 25 years in jail.
The verdict was described as an important step in what is one of the longest judiciary sagas in Irish and French history. The court also ordered a new European arrest warrant be issued, asking Ireland for the third time to extradite Mr Bailey to France.
“The court considers that there is sufficient evidence to establish that Ian Bailey committed the crime he is accused of,” Judge Frédérique Aline, who presided over the trial, told the court in a half-hour explanation of its decision.
A lawyer for the victim’s family requested damages of €500,000 from the French commission for victims of crime and €365,000 from Mr Bailey. The decision on damages will be announced on June 11th.
At least two of Ms Toscan du Plantier’s family wept when the verdict was announced. Pierre-Louis Baudey-Vignaud (38), the victim’s only child, embraced his father, Pierre-Jean, who was Ms Toscan du Plantier’s first husband, for a long moment.
Relatives emphasised that the trial, while essential, was only the end of the beginning. They want Ireland to extradite Mr Bailey for a retrial and they want to see him in prison.
“There is no longer any doubt (about Mr Bailey’s guilt),” said Pierre-Louis Baudey-Vignaud. “Now we will attend to the next step and one day for sure, Ian Bailey, who killed my mother, will go to jail.”
Mr Baudey-Vignaud said he hoped Ireland’s sense of humanity would lead it to extradite Mr Bailey.
Ms du Plantier’s father Georges Bouniol (93) said he was far from elated. “I want my daughter to be alive and with us here today as she should be and that is not possible,” he said.
The ruling on its own most likely does not mean he can be extradited, according to an extradition law source. The Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that he cannot be extradited. However, a recent change in Irish law could mean the door to extradition is "a little bit more open", the source said.
Mr Bailey, who has repeatedly denied having any involvement in the murder, refused to attend the trial. So did his French and Irish lawyers. Solicitor Frank Buttimer, who has represented Mr Bailey for more than two decades, called the verdict "a grotesque miscarriage of justice". He said it was "a predictable outcome from the start … no more than a rubber-stamping exercise to validate the predetermined belief of those in authority in France that Ian Bailey is guilty."
The judges based their verdict on wounds on Mr Bailey, which he did not have prior to the murder, his admissions of guilt to four people, his knowledge of the murder and the victim’s nationality before they were made public, and his history of violence against his partner.
The French considered testimony by witness Marie Farrell that she saw Mr Bailey near the victim's house around the time of the murder to be valid, despite the fact she later retracted her testimony.