Toscan du Plantier family welcomes second visit to west Cork by French magistrate

Family lawyer says Patrick Gachon’s visit indicates seriousness of his approach

Sophie Toscan du Plantier

Sophie Toscan du Plantier

 

A lawyer acting for the family of Sophie Toscan du Plantier has welcomed the decision by French judge Patrick Gachon to return to west Cork to examine the scene of the killing and meet witnesses.

Alain Spilliaert - who acts for Ms Toscan du Plantier’s elderly parents, Georges and Marguerite Bouniol, and her son Pierre Louis Baudey - said it was a good decision by Judge Gachon to come to west Cork.

“We see this visit by Judge Gachon as indicative of the seriousness with which he is approaching his task, and hopefully now it will help him conclude his investigation into the murder,” he said.

“The case has gone on for nearly 20 years now, and it is in everyone’s interest that a file be prepared on the matter and presented to the public prosecutor in Paris for a decision,” he added.

The campaign group the Association for the Truth about the Murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier (ASSOPH) also welcomed the decision by Mr Gachon to return to west Cork.

Association vice-president Jean-Antoine Bloc-Daudé pointed out it was the judge’s second visit to the area, having examined the scene during his first visit to Schull in June 2009.

“We have always felt that it was a wise decision by Judge Gachon to examine the scene as happens in France in contradistinction to the DPP who never visited where Sophie was murdered,” he said.

“Now that he has decided to follow up and examine how long it would take to walk from Mr Bailey’s house at the Prairie [Liscaha, Schull, where Mr Bailey lives] to the murder scene is also a good step in testing a hypothesis about the killing.”

Earlier this year, solicitor for Ian Bailey Frank Buttimer confirmed he had not been notified by the Dept of Justice of its decision to reactivate co-operation with the French investigation.

Mr Buttimer was informed in May 2014 by the Department of Justice that it was suspending co-operation with the French investigation under the Mutual Assistance Act after he threatened legal action.

He said the reason he was told co-operation was being suspended was because of Mr Bailey’s High Court case and the Fennelly inquiry into illegal recordings in Garda stations was ongoing.

Last month, Mr Buttimer said both reasons were still extant after Mr Bailey lodged an appeal against the result of his High Court case but the Department of Justice appeared to have changed its stance.

However Mr Buttimer said he had received no notification of this, and the first he knew of French investigators returning to west Cork was from the media.

Contacted by The Irish Times regarding Judge Gachon’s visit and Mr Buttimer’s comments about the decision to lift suspension on co-operation, the Department of Justice declined to comment.

“The Department is not in a position to make any comment in circumstances where the provision of mutual legal aid assistance is a confidential matter,” it said.