Sophie was ‘everything that excited’ Bailey – court hears

Trial of Ian Bailey in absentia for murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier continues in Paris

Sophie Toscan Du Plantier was killed at her remote holiday home in west Cork in 1996.

Sophie Toscan Du Plantier was killed at her remote holiday home in west Cork in 1996.


Sophie Toscan du Plantier was exactly the type of woman Ian Bailey desired and he called to her remote holiday home in west Cork at Christmas 1996 seeking sex with her, a lawyer for Ms Toscan du Plantier’s family has claimed.

Marie Dose, who represents Ms Toscan du Plantier’s family, told the Cour d’Assises in Paris, where Mr Bailey (62) is being tried in absentia for the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier (39) at Toormore on December 23rd, 1996, that Mr Bailey called to her house late at night intent on a sexual liaison.

Ms Dose said it was clear from an examination of Mr Bailey’s diaries where he recorded his sexual fantasies after watching pornographic movies that he was a sexual obsessive with an appetite for perversity and, fuelled by alcohol on the night in question, he went to Ms Toscan du Plantier’s house sexually motivated.

“Sophie Toscan du Plantier was everything that excited Ian Bailey. She was French, she was famous, she was an artist, she was the wife of the most powerful film producer in France. She was exactly the type of woman that Ian Bailey wanted,” she said.

Credible witness

Ms Dose also said that key witness Marie Farrell remained credible in her statements that she saw Mr Bailey at Kealfadda Bridge on the night of the murder, and she argued Ms Farrell’s retraction of those statements in 2005 was proof of Mr Bailey’s ability to intimidate and scare witnesses.

Fellow lawyer Laurent Pettiti, also for Ms Toscan du Plantier’s family, told the court that the arguments by Mr Bailey’s Irish lawyer, Frank Buttimer, and French lawyer, Dominique Tricaud, that Mr Bailey had been exonerated in Ireland because the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) decided not to prosecute him, were wrong.

Mr Pettiti said it was “a sham” to claim that the DPP’s document was the definitive and final word on the case, as it was written in 2001 and the file remains open, and to suggest there was “nothing to see here, move along” was nothing more than “a parody of justice”.

His colleague, Alain Spilliaert, addressed the allegations made by Mr Bailey about the Garda investigation being based on a false statement from Ms Farrell, but he pointed out that Judge Patrick Moran at Cork Circuit Court had found Ms Farrell entirely credible when stating she saw Mr Bailey at Kealfadda Bridge.

Ms Farrell had since withdrawn that statement and alleged Garda corruption, but a jury at the High Court in Dublin spent 64 days listening to Mr Bailey’s allegations of corruption and they decided that gardaí had not been corrupt and exonerated them of any wrongdoing, as Mr Bailey had alleged.

The court also heard from Ms Toscan du Plantier’s family about the type of person she was and how her death impacted on them. Her son, Pierre Louis Baudey Vignaud, who was 15 when she died, described how close they were as he lived alone with her for a long time after his parents divorced.

“I want it to be remembered the love this person brought and the regard that everyone who knew her had for her. She was someone who didn’t have a bad word to say about anyone . . . She was a woman who was passionate and a woman who was intelligent,” he said.

Describing her relationship with his step-father Daniel Toscan du Plantier, whom he called Toscan, he said: “He was such a strong personality. They were both vibrant people – full of life. They had a loving relationship that was passionate and romantic and, like everyone, they had their ups and downs.”

Wilderness and isolation

He recalled how his mother loved the wilderness and the isolation of Ireland and how she gave him an understanding of the world and how much suffering there was, and he recalled how she instanced what happened to the Jews during the second World War as an example of what some people had to endure in life.

He said his mother did not go to Ireland in December 1996 to escape her husband, but because she sometimes needed to escape their glamorous and very public life. He said their relationship “was not just an attraction. It was something that was very profound.”

And he appealed to the three-judge court, Judge Frederique Aline and her fellow magistrates, Judge Didier Forton and Judge Geraldine Detienne, to ensure that not just his mother got justice but his entire family, including his young daughter Sophie, named after the grandmother she never knew.

“When I go back to Ireland today, I do not go to a crime scene. I go to keep the memory of my mother alive. I don’t know what will happen in this court but we felt we had a duty of justice to my children so that when my daughter is 20, this court will help her feel secure enough to return to Ireland alone.”

The trial also heard from Ms Toscan du Plantier’s brother, Bertrand Bouniol, and her uncle, Michel Gazeau, and aunt, Marie Madeleine Opalka, who described her niece as “a vibrant and beautiful woman who should be walking free today and it was important that justice be done”.

Mr Bailey – who is not legally represented at the hearing – has repeatedly denied any involvement in the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier while he has also denied that he ever made any admissions to anyone that he killed her, as has been stated during the French trial and other court hearings in Ireland.