French to study Toscan du Plantier evidence

 

Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern has agreed to allow a French forensic investigation team to travel to Ireland to carry out their own examination on evidence gathered by gardaí investigating the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier in west Cork.

A spokesman for the Minister for Justice confirmed to The Irish Times that permission had been granted for the move after investigating French magistrate Judge Patrick Gachon wrote to the Irish authorities during the summer seeking access to the evidence.

Gardaí investigating the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier (39) at her holiday home near Schull in December 1996 gathered more than 200 exhibits but these were not included when Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy sanctioned the handing over of the file to the French in 2008.

The Irish Times understands that Judge Gachon is now hoping to send a team of police forensic scientists from the institut de recherche criminelle de la gendarmerie nationale to Ireland before the end of the year to examine evidence.

In addition to copies of diaries and notebooks seized from English journalist Ian Bailey when he was arrested for questioning about the killing, the exhibits include blood samples, nail scrapings and hair samples taken from Ms Toscan du Plantier’s body. The French scientists are expected to examine these, as well as the clothing that Ms Toscan du Plantier was wearing on the night of her murder, which include a short cotton top, long johns-style underpants, boot-like shoes with socks sewn into the top and a blue dressing gown.

Gardaí also have retained a cavity block which they believe was used to finally kill her, while they also have a stone with blood which was found in the field through which she fled as well as a blood sample taken from the door of her house.

The blood samples have all been tested three times to date as forensic techniques have developed, including being sent once to the UK for Low Copy Number DNA analysis, but on each occasion, the results have shown the blood to be that of Ms Toscan du Plantier.

Any examination or testing of evidence by French experts will be supervised by members of the Garda Technical Bureau.