Memorial notices have been placed in a number of Irish publications, including the
The Southern Star,
to mark the anniversary of the mother of one who was beaten to death in the laneway leading to her isolated holiday home at Toormore in west Cork.
Sophie’s body was found at 10am on December 23, 1996 – but despite one of the biggest Garda murder investigations ever mounted, no-one has ever been charged with her killing in Ireland.
The 39-year-old was murdered just hours before she was due to fly back to Paris from Cork Airport, having spent a few days alone on holiday at her Toormore property.
The photograph – which has never been published before – was issued by Sophie’s family to support the memorial notices which were organised by her friends and neighbours in Ireland.
Jean-Pierre Gazeau, Sophie’s uncle and a key figure in the justice campaign group ASSOPH, the Association For The Truth About The Murder Of Sophie, said the family wanted to support her friends in Ireland who wanted her remembered as part of the old Irish tradition. Sophie’s son, Pierre-Louis Baudey-Vignaud, said he welcomed Garda activity on the unsolved case and the possibility of a full cold case review in 2022.
Mr Baudey-Vignaud still owns the isolated Toormore cottage near Schull that Sophie described as her “dream home”.
He has kept the cottage as Sophie left it, but denied that it is in any way a shrine to her.
Mr Baudey-Vignaud also named his eldest daughter Sophie after his mother.
While holidaying in Ireland, Sophie would purchase produce from renowned west Cork cheesemaker Bill Hogan as well as other local artisans.
Mr Hogan is an American who worked as a young man with Martin Luther King Jnr.
Sophie and the cheesemaker became friends and Mr Hogan is one of those who works to ensure Sophie’s memory is kept alive in west Cork.
Mr Hogan said the fresh photo perfectly encapsulates the remarkable woman that Sophie was – and her “vibrant, vivacious and bright nature”.
The Southern Star
: “It is our way of asking the Irish people to emotionally adopt Sophie and to take her to heart.”
The notices include the admonition: “Justice delayed is justice denied.”
Those involved in the memorial campaign especially wanted to show their support for the French family at a particularly difficult time.
Sophie’s parents, Georges and Marguerite Bouniol, traditionally visited west Cork each winter to mark the anniversary of their only daughter’s death.
However, age, ill-health and the Covid-19 pandemic has ruled out any special memorial event in west Cork.
The family are expected to remember Sophie at a private prayer service in Paris.
Friends and neighbours of Sophie will lay fresh flowers at the stone Celtic cross which marks the spot where her body was found.
The marker is simply inscribed “Sophie”.
A number of her friends will pray for her
today at churches in Schull and Goleen.