Ian Bailey - Sophie a murder in west cork
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Sophie: A Murder in West Cork: Who is Ian Bailey and why is he a suspect?

Just how connected was the reporter to the death of the French socialite?

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After 25 years, Ian Bailey remains the prime suspect in the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier.

In 1996, Sophie was found bludgeoned on the moors of her holiday home in Ireland, with French and Irish police frantically searching for answers.

Bailey is now convicted in France, but not in Ireland, with the investigation ongoing.

He maintains his innocence to this day.

So why is he a suspect and why did the two investigations end in different results?

Here’s everything you need to know…

Sophie: A Murder In West Cork
Sophie’s son is still searching for justice over her death (Credit: Netflix)

How did Sophie Toscan du Plantier die?

On December 23rd, 1996, du Plantier’s body was found on a pathway in Schull, County Cork.

It was later determined that she was beaten to death with a concrete block, before being left on a roadside.

Her home was not disrupted in any way, though her keys were still in the back of the door, and she did not suffer any kind of sexual assault before her death.

It is thought the door shut behind her when she went outside to investigate a noise.

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Why is Ian Bailey a suspect?

Ian Bailey is a journalist living northeast of Sophie’s former home.

He consequently became the main ‘stringers’ for newspapers after being one of the first on the scene.

But he came under suspicion after one report revealed intimate details of the case, from lack of sexual assault to two wine glasses on her sideboard.

Bailey also inferred the married du Plantier had ‘male companions’ attend her home.

Ian Bailey
Bailey maintains his innocence to this day (Credit: Netflix)

Locals say Bailey generally ‘acted strangely’, and scratches on his face and arms were noted by the Gardai (Irish police).

His alibi, that he was in bed with his partner, collapsed when he changed his story to get up in the middle of the night and head down the road to his office outhouse.

Marie Farrell anonymously called the Gardai to claim she saw a man on a bridge near where du Plantier was found.

She identified Bailey under oath in 2003, and made follow-up claims saying Bailey attempted to intimidate her in her shop.

Ian Bailey
Bailey is a journalist, working as a local ‘stringer’ for newspapers at the time (Credit: Netflix)

By 2015, she retracted her statement in a separate court appearance and said it was someone else.

Two confession claims later surfaced, including a 14-year-old boy and a couple who said Bailey told them he ‘went too far’.

Bailey’s history of violence against women, including an arrest, was also unearthed.

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However, there is no evidence to suggest Bailey ever had any direct contact with du Plantier.

He asserts the scratches were from cutting down a Christmas tree and turkeys he killed while working at a slaughterhouse.

The Gardai did not take photos of the injuries, instead using rough sketches.

What is the current verdict?

In 2019, French courts convicted Bailey ‘in absentia’ after a four day trial – meaning he wasn’t there when the trial was taking place.

He was sentenced to 25 years in prison, and the country has made multiple attempts to extradite him.

However, Ireland’s High Court ruled against it and he remains in Ireland to this day.

Ireland has never convicted him as, despite some circumstantial evidence, there was no proof beyond reasonable doubt.

Sophie: A Murder In West Cork
Sophie’s murderer has never been caught (Credit: Netflix)

Bailey continues to maintain his innocence, and believes du Plantier’s husband ordered the killing.

His claims are based on her life insurance policy, and his unwillingness to travel to Ireland to identify her body.

However, Daniel Toscan du Plantier has a cast-iron alibi for the day of her death.

The family of Sophie, including her son Pierre, believe Bailey is the murderer.

There has never been any other notable suspects.

Sophie: A Murder in West Cork launches June 30th on Netflix.

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