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'suffered enough' Director Jim Sheridan says Sophie Toscan du Plantier’s family 'probably had their grief abused' 

Sophie’s family withdrew their interviews from the Irish director’s Sky documentary

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Sophie Toscan du Plantier

Sophie Toscan du Plantier

Sophie Toscan du Plantier

Jim Sheridan said “maybe” he has abused the grieving process of Sophie Toscan du Plantier’s family. 

The Irish director’s documentary on Sophie’s murder, called Murder at the Cottage: The Search for Justice for Sophie aired on Sky a fortnight ago. 

However, before it was released Sophie’s family asked for their interviews to be removed from Mr Sheridan’s five-part series, and Sky agreed to remove the clips. 

The French documentary filmmaker was 39 when she was beaten to death at her isolated holiday home near Schull in West Cork on December 23, 1996.

In a case that shook the world, no one has ever been found guilty in Irish courts of her murder.

However, freelance journalist Ian Bailey – who has vehemently denied having any involvement in her death – was found guilty in his absence by a French court two years ago.

He was questioned by gardaí in relation to the murder but was never charged and on three occasions, French bids to have Mr Bailey extradited to Paris were rejected by Irish courts.

Sophie’s brother, Bertrand Bouniol, said he asked for the family’s interviews to be removed from Mr Sheridan’s documentary because “everything is focused on Ian Bailey”.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One’s Ray D’Arcy Show today, Mr Sheridan said he “can’t really comment” on why the family asked for their interviews to be removed. 

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Irish director Jim Sheridan. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Irish director Jim Sheridan. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Irish director Jim Sheridan. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

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"I can’t really comment on it because the last thing I’d want to do is damage a hair on their head. They’ve suffered enough and they probably had their grief abused,” he said. 

When asked if he abused their grief, the Oscar-nominated filmmaker said: “Maybe... but not in a way for financial gain.. It’s necessary at certain points in the pursuit of justice for Sophie, you cannot just enter that arena, you can’t just go in blind and thrash around and make mad comments and mad opinions you have to be very careful.

"I pray that the truth prevails and it doesn’t damage the family.”

Speaking to RTÉ last week, Sophie’s brother said when watching the Sky documentary it was clear that Mr Sheridan “wanted to be a witness trying to understand what the case is.”

He added: “The objective of this documentary was not Sophie, it was Mr Bailey. And when you look at this documentary everything is focused on Mr Bailey.”

The Irish director has denied claims that the documentary series shines Ian Bailey in a good light. 

And he said he believes the trial in France – which found Mr Bailey guilty in absentia – would have always come to its guilty verdict. 

"Our documentary in no way shows Ian Bailey in a rosy light. In fact, our documentary bends over backward to be fair,” he said. 

“We had to abide by right of reply, we had to abide by legal opinion, there were so many constraints in what we could say that it was as of the middle of the road as you could go.”

Mr Sheridan added that in order to be objective, you have to “let it go” that Mr Bailey was involved. 

“Even if Ian Bailey did it you have to let it go and you have to put a potential other face on the murderer so that you can investigate it,” he said. 

Mr Sheridan’s documentary is one of two recent series on the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier.

A three-part Netflix series called Sophie: A Murder in West Cork is also available to stream.


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