Gardaí have no plans to begin a cold case review of the murder of French woman Sophie Toscan du Plantier in west Cork almost 17 years ago, Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan has said.
The commissioner told The Irish Times that the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier at her holiday home at Toormore near Schull in December 1996 had been the subject of a series of Garda reviews over the years and the file remained open on the killing.
“We have no plans right now to launch a cold case review but as you aware this crime has been investigated, it has been looked at many many times by many, many teams so that’s a constant,” said the commissioner.
“The case as far as we are concerned is still open and while it may not be active, if there are any new leads we will pursue them to the nth degree of course. But at the moment because of the number of reviews that have taken place we are just monitoring the situation.”
Ms Toscan du Plantier’s killing was the subject of a Garda review in 2001 by Chief Supt Austin McNally while in 2005 Assistant Commissioner Ray McAndrew began a review of the Garda handling of the original investigation.
Released without charge
That review followed a complaint by Ian Bailey (55) who was twice arrested for questioning about the murder but was released without charge on each occasion. Mr Bailey has always protested his innocence of any involvement in Ms Toscan du Plantier's death.
In November 2012, Ms Toscan du Plantier's uncle, Jean Pierre Gazeau, and other members of a campaign group set up in France to seek justice for her, met Det Supt Christy Mangan who heads up the Garda cold case review team.
Mr Gazeau and his associates, Jean Antoine Bloc-Daudet and lawyers Alain Spilliaert and James Mac Guill, spent more than an hour briefing Det Supt Mangan on the murder and expressed hope afterwards that gardaí would open a cold case review of the killing.
Mr Spilliaert said he was surprised by the decision of the Garda commissioner as he and his associates who had met Det Supt Mangan had been very encouraged by the meeting and were optimistic that the cold case review team would look at the murder.
"It's yet another disappointment for the family with regard to the Irish authorities – obviously they will feel that not all efforts are being made in Ireland to solve this case which has now gone on for nearly 17 years," said Mr Spilliaert.
“I must say I am surprised at the decision of the Garda commissioner because I thought it would be one of the most sensitive cases in Ireland and in that sense was a case that was suited to be examined by the cold case review team.
“Certainly we were very encouraged by our meeting with Det Supt Mangan.”
He added: "It was a very positive meeting and we found him to be professional and very interested in the case, so certainly this news is a surprise to us."
Mr Callinan also confirmed that the Garda has replied to French magistrate Patrick Gachon who is seeking permission to send French investigators to Ireland to interview 30 witnesses and he expected a response from the French shortly.
“We are in dialogue with them and they’ve asked us to conduct a number of inquiries so we’ve done that and we’ve transmitted it back to them. So the ball is in their court really to see what further requests they might make of us but we are co-operating with them,” said Mr Callinan.
The Irish Times understands from Garda sources that it's likely that French investigators will come to west Cork either in late November or early to mid-December to take statements from 30 witnesses who have agreed to be interviewed as part of the French investigation.