Ian Bailey seeks new review of Garda investigation into du Plantier murder

Bailey has written to Garda Commissioner alleging a conspiracy to frame him for killing

Ian  Bailey (64), who was convicted in absentia in France in 2019 of the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier but was never charged in Ireland in relation to her death. Photograph:Nick Bradshaw

Ian Bailey (64), who was convicted in absentia in France in 2019 of the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier but was never charged in Ireland in relation to her death. Photograph:Nick Bradshaw

 

Ian Bailey has written to Garda Commissioner Drew Harris seeking a new review of the Garda investigation into the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, alleging a conspiracy to frame him for the killing.

Mr Bailey (64), who was convicted in absentia in France in 2019 of the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier but was never charged in Ireland in relation to her death, has alleged gardaí sought to frame him for the killing from the outset.

“For 25 years, my life has been blighted by a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice by putting me in the frame for a crime I had nothing to do with – the murder in 1996 of the French national Madame Sophie Toscan du Plantier.”

Mr Bailey stated in the letter that the accumulative effect of “perpetuating a false narrative casting me as a murderer” has totally ruined his life, leading to his recent separation from his partner of 30 years, artist Jules Thomas.

“It robbed me of my career, any reasonable legitimate expectations and has most recently led to the breakdown of my 30-year relationship with the woman I loved and still do,” he stated in the letter.

Mr Bailey said he was writing to Mr Harris because he felt he was relatively new to the role and thus well placed to order a review of the original murder investigation which saw him twice arrested and the subject of a file to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

However, the DPP decided that there was insufficient evidence to merit a charge against Mr Bailey who alleges that French authorities decided to charge and try him on the basis of a Garda file deemed insufficient to charge him here.

Mr Bailey said apart from the fact that, as an innocent man, he was in danger of “being tortured to the grave... the prejudiced investigation amounts to the darkest of stains on the otherwise good name of An Garda Síochána”.

Mr Bailey promised that he, Ms Thomas and his lawyers would assist with any review ordered by Mr Harris. “Pray act swiftly, pray act honourably and honestly so I may be released from an unbearable torture before it is too late.”

Three reviews

Chief Supt Con Cadogan of the West Cork Garda Division, who heads up the murder investigation, told The Irish Times Mr Bailey was “perfectly entitled” to write to the commissioner seeking a review of the original investigation.

But he pointed out the case had already been the subject of at least three reviews , one by Chief Supt Austin McNally in 2002, one by Assistant Commissioner Ray McAndrew in 2005 and one by the Garda ombusman (Gsoc) which reported in 2018.

“All three reviews found no evidence of any conspiracy to frame Mr Bailey - Gsoc found there were failings in the Garda management of the original case but they found no evidence of any garda trying to pervert the course of justice.

“In fact, Gsoc was quite clear and I quote: ‘There is no evidence to suggest that Ian Bailey was ‘framed’ for the murder or that evidence was falsified, forged or fabricated by members of An Garda Síochána’.”

Chief Supt Cadogan said Mr Bailey in his original complaint to Gsoc relied on comments by DPP solicitor, Robert Sheehan, in a 2001 review regarding the Garda investigation being flawed as evidence of Garda corruption.

But he pointed out Gsoc was quite clear following its seven year long inquiry, which involved interviewing some 55 witnesses and reviewing the original file, that Mr Sheehan’s criticism of the Garda file was not evidence of corruption.

“Gsoc noted ‘This critique is the opinion of the DPP and is not evidential in and of itself. There is no evidence within the critique that members of the Garda Síochána had attempted to pervert the course of justice’,” he said.

Chief Supt Cadogan would not be drawn on the issue of the missing gate or the unidentified male DNA found on Ms Toscan du Plantier’s boot but he did point out virtually all witnesses have stood over their original statements to gardaí.

Chief Supt Cadogan pointed out Mr Bailey’s allegations of a Garda conspiracy were tested in the High Court in a trial that lasted 64 days, which ended in 2015 with a jury dismissing his claim for damages against the state.

Documentaries

Mr Bailey’s letter to Mr Harris comes as interest in the 25-year-old murder mystery looks set to intensify with a number of TV documentaries, a new podcast and two books all released or due for release shortly.

Journalists, Michael Sheridan and Nick Foster have each published books on the murder while Sam Bungee and Jennifer Forde have released a new episode of their hit podcast West Cork on Acast, focusing mainly on Mr Bailey’s trial in absentia in Paris.

Oscar-winning producer, Simon Chinn, and his company, Lightbox, are due to release their three-part documentary, Sophie: A Murder in West Cork made for Netflix on June 30th.

The documentary, directed by Bafta nominee John Dower, was filmed in West Cork and in France and includes contributions from Ms Toscan du Plantier’s family including her son Pierre Louis Baudey as well as locals in Schull.

“Sophie was much more than a victim of a murder. She was a mother, a daughter, a sister, a filmmaker and a writer,” said Mr Chinn. “Whatever actually happened on that cold December night in 1996, the story is one of a collision of worlds, cultures and characters and it was that which drew us to it,” he said.

“But it was meeting and gaining the trust of Sophie’s family which really gave us our purpose. Justice has eluded them for a quarter of a century since Sophie’s death and their main aim in co-operating with us to make this series is to do justice to her memory. We hope we have achieved that, for them.”

Meanwhile, Oscar-nominated Irish film director, Jim Sheridan, is scheduled to release his five-part documentary series on the killing, Murder at the Cottage - The Search for Justice for Sophie, later in the summer.

Mr Sheridan and investigative reporter Donal McIntyre spent hundreds of hours filming Mr Bailey talking about the case. “He’s a character and a half,” Mr Sheridan recently told The Sunday Independent.

“In the back of my head, the case was always going around because I felt he had been tried by the media. This is a guy who didn’t even sign a confession; the Guilford Four and Birmingham Six did that, even though they were innocent.”