Murder review | 

Ian Bailey writes third letter to Garda chief about Sophie Toscan du Plantier 'review'

Journalist-turned-poet Ian Bailey is seeking a full review, which he insists would “clear his name”

Ian Bailey

Ali Bracken

Ian Bailey has written to the Garda Commissioner asking about the status of a potential cold-case review into the killing of Sophie Toscan du Plantier.

The journalist-turned-poet and one-time chief suspect in the murder sent the letter to commissioner Drew Harris last week, as senior Garda management continue to consider whether the results of a preliminary Garda “scoping exercise” review warrant a fresh investigation.

It is the third time Mr Bailey has written to the county’s top garda in the past 18 months seeking a full review, which he insists would “clear his name”.

In his letter, seen by the Sunday World, the 65-year-old writes: “Further to correspondence with you last year, I want to enquire as to my request for a review of the case relating to the murder of Ms Sophie Tuscan du Plantier and the false allegations made against me. Could you let me know the current situation?”

The call for a cold case review into the 1996 murder of the French filmmaker has been echoed by Ms du Plantier’s family.

Her only child, Pierre Louis Baudey-Vignaud, raised the possibility of a full cold-case review of his mother’s murder when he met Chief Supt Con Cadogan of the West Cork Division in Schull last October.

A preliminary review by specialist cold-case investigators into the murder was completed in January.

The report — which was to recommend whether or not a full cold-case review into the murder is warranted — was then submitted to one of the most senior gardaí in the country, assistant commissioner John O’Driscoll.

Asst Comm O’Driscoll is in charge of Special Crime Operations in An Garda Síochána.

Late last year, the force appointed the team to carry out a preliminary assessment of the investigation into the killing. Sources described it as a “scoping exercise”.

Four detectives from the Serious Crime Review Team, commonly known as the cold-case unit, examined the case file, which runs to over 4,000 pages and has been submitted four times to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

It is understood the team examined whether forensics issues and advances in technology would make the case worth revisiting.

It also examined witness statements and whether people who declined to co-operate 26 years ago might now have changed their position, possibly due to a change in their personal circumstances.

Mr Bailey was twice arrested but never charged in Ireland in connection with Ms Toscan du Plantier’s murder. He has repeatedly denied involvement in the killing.

The Englishman said when contacted last week that he is “astonished” that gardaí have yet to confirm whether a full review into the murder will be initiated.

A cold-case team went to West Cork last year and undertook an initial examination.

“According to media reports, that team has submitted its report and recommendations to senior gardaí. It’s astonishing that we still do not know what will happen next. Both myself and the du Plantier family have called for a full cold-case review. I believe it would clear my name,” he told the Sunday Independent.

The writer was convicted in 2019 in France in absentia of the Frenchwoman’s murder, and sentenced to 25 years.

On three occasions, the Irish courts have denied attempts by the French authorities to extradite him. In an interview with this newspaper over Christmas, Bailey said it was clear the French were determined to hold him responsible.

“Technically, I’m an international fugitive. The French are still trying to get me. It doesn’t keep me awake at night. But until it’s over, it’s not over.”

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