Investigators say Toscan du Plantier got phone call from journalist in Cork
Cousin tells French investigators Sophie told her she had been contacted by man from area where she had holiday home
Ian Bailey: he denies he ever made any such phone call to Ms Toscan du Plantier. “It’s a completely erroneous suggestion with no basis in fact”
Sophie Toscan du Plantier received a phone call from a journalist in Cork days before she travelled to Ireland for a holiday that was to end in her murder, French investigators have said.
According to a French investigation team set up to inquire into the murder of the film producer at her holiday home near Schull in west Cork in December 1996, Ms Toscan du Plantier (39) was surprised to receive a phone call at her workplace from the Irish-based journalist.
According to a statement from the victim’s cousin Alexandra Lewy, she told French investigators in November 2008 that she remembered a conversation that they had just days before Ms Toscan du Plantier flew from Paris to Cork for a vacation at her holiday home near Schull.
“I remember that a few days before she left for Ireland, Sophie told me that she had been contacted on the phone at Les Champs Blanc [the film company where she worked] by a man from the area in Ireland where she had her holiday home,” said Ms Lewy.
“This man advised her he was an independent journalist and a writer. According to my cousin, he requested a meeting with her for cultural reasons but did not specify any further. My cousin was surprised by the call and the fact he did not answer her question as to how he got her number.”
Ms Lewy, who had been invited by Ms Toscan du Plantier to accompany her to Ireland but was unable to do so, said her cousin was not worried by the man’s refusal to tell her how he got her work number at Les Champs Blanc, attributing his behaviour to “Irish eccentricity”.
“I think that my cousin gave me the name of this individual but I don’t recall his name – I am not able to confirm that it was Ian Bailey, but I know the man she described greatly resembled or corresponded with Mr Bailey on several points.”
Mr Bailey was twice arrested in the case and questioned about the killing.
Ms Lewy said details of the phone call were conveyed to the Garda. However, gardaí were unable to identify the caller as they had no way of checking the phone records from 1996 because the telephone exchange in Schull had not gone digital at the time.
Details of Ms Lewy’s statement are included in 44-page indictment on Mr Bailey drawn up by investigating magistrate Nathalie Turquey, in which she outlines her reason for charging him with the voluntary homicide of Ms Toscan du Plantier, a mother of one, at Toormore, Schull, on December 23rd, 1996.
Contacted by The Irish Times about Ms Lewy’s statement and its inclusion in the French file, Mr Bailey denied that he ever made any such phone call to Ms Toscan du Plantier. “It’s a completely erroneous suggestion with no basis in fact,” he said.
Mr Bailey (60) has denied any involvement in Ms Toscan du Plantier’s killing, and denied that he ever made any admissions that he was involved in her death.
Mr Bailey has also denied he knew Ms Toscan du Plantier, telling his High Court libel action against a number of newspapers in 2003 that his only point of contact with her was when he saw her in the kitchen of her home while he was doing some gardening for her neighbour Alfie Lyons.
However, Mr Lyons told the libel trial that he was “90 per cent” certain that he had introduced Mr Bailey to Ms Toscan du Plantier.
Another witness, Leo Bolger, has since made a statement to gardaí that he witnessed Mr Lyons introduce Mr Bailey to Ms Toscan du Plantier.
Another witness, French film producer Guy Girard, told The Irish Times in 2010 that Ms Toscan du Plantier told him in November 1996 that she knew Mr Bailey.
Mr Girard’s statement to French police is also included in the document justifying the charge of voluntary homicide.
Mr Bailey is due to hear on Thursday, January 25th, whether he has been successful in an appeal against the decision to charge him in France with the voluntary homicide of Ms Toscan du Plantier.
The three-judge appeal court, the Chambre de L’Instruction, will deliver its ruling in Paris.