A lawyer acting for the family of murdered French woman Sophie Toscan du Plantier has challenged prime suspect Ian Bailey to come to France with new information that the killing was apparently carried out by a hitman.
Alain Spilliaert said that if Mr Bailey has information about who killed the film producer at her holiday home in Toormore in west Cork in 1996, then he should travel to France and present it at a new trial.
"Ian Bailey was convicted in his absence in the Cour d'Assise in Paris in May 2019 of the voluntary homicide of Sophie Toscan du Plantier but if he were to come to France, he would have the opportunity to have a new trial where he would be legally represented," he said.
“If he believes that Sophie Toscan du Plantier was killed by a French hitman and he has information to that effect, then he should come to France, surrender to the French authorities and he could present whatever evidence he had on this hitman to the new trial.”
Mr Bailey, who was twice arrested by gardaí and questioned about the killing but was never charged, told The Irish Mirror last month that he believed a hitman travelled from France and he hinted that he may have been hired by Ms Toscan du Plantier’s late husband, Daniel.
“I suspect the hitman is from France - it was always one of the theories in the case but it was never seriously followed up the by gardaí. What I do know is it was not me. I did not know Sophie, I did not have sex with her, I did not kill her,” said Mr Bailey.
"In cases like this, you have to ask who benefitted most from her death? Her husband was having an affair with his fourth wife, Melita Nikolic. He had a substantial amount of insurance on Sophie's life. He acted very strangely after her death. I do not have hard evidence to prove it but that is my view."
Mr Bailey has repeatedly denied any involvement in the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier and also that he ever made any admissions to any witnesses that he killed the 39-year-old mother of one.
Mr Spilliaert added: “If he believes Sophie Toscan du Plantier was killed by a French hitman, who went to west Cork to murder her with a rock, let him gather his evidence, surrender himself to the French authorities and present the evidence at a new trial in Paris and we can have a normal legal debate on it in court.”
He said that Mr Bailey could also call key witness, Marie Farrell to give evidence on his behalf including her latest assertion that the man she saw at Kealfadda Bridge, some 2.6km from Ms Toscan du Plantier's home on the night of the murder, was Middle Eastern.
Ms Farrell had identified the man she had seen at Kealfadda Bridge as the same man she had seen outside her shop in Schull two days before the murder. She originally told gardaí that he was Mr Bailey, but she later retracted this and said gardaí coerced her into making a false statement.
She told filmmaker Jim Sheridan’s recent documentary, Murder at the Cottage - The Search for Justice for Sophie, that the man she saw outside her shop on December 21st, 1996 and at Kealfadda Bridge at around 3am on December 23rd, 1996 was Middle Eastern.
According to The Irish Mirror, Ms Farrell recognised the man as being known to Ms Toscan du Plantier’s husband, Daniel when she was shown a photograph of him and gave his name to gardaí when they took a new statement from her last month.
Mr Spilliaert said that under French law, an accused person can present whatever witnesses they wish in court and Mr Bailey could call Ms Farrell to give her testimony at his new trial that the man she saw at Kealfadda Bridge was someone known to Daniel Toscan du Plantier.
His comments come as another new documentary, made with the co-operation of Ms Toscan du Plantier's family, Sophie: Murder in West Cork, airs on Netflix.