- 28 Mar 17
Long-time murder suspect, Ian Bailey, has spoken to Hot Press about his current legal travails, the planned Jim Sheridan documentary about his case and his debut poetry collection, The West Cork Way.
IAN BAILEY is famous in Ireland for all the wrong reasons. Following the violent murder of French film producer Sophie Toscan du Plantier (39) at her holiday home in Schull, West Cork, in December 1996, the 60-year-old English journalist and poet has remained the sole suspect in her death for more than 20 years.
While Bailey has always strenuously proclaimed his complete innocence, insisting that he never even met the murder victim, the cloud of doubt has hung over his head ever since his first arrest in February 1997. He was arrested again the following year, but the Director of Public Prosecutions has always ruled that there is insufficient evidence to take him to trial.
The French authorities disagree, however, and have recently issued a warrant to have him charged with voluntary homicide. Bailey has instructed his French lawyer, Dominic Tricaud, to lodge an appeal. On the foot of his decision to lodge an appeal, his lawyers will now apparently be given access to the full file that the French have prepared on the case. Last week Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald sought to have a second European Arrest Warrant, issued by the French authorities for Bailey’s extradition to France, endorsed by the High Court.
A European Arrest Warrant has to be first endorsed by the High Court before it is transferred to An Garda Siochána, who execute the warrant and arrest the person named on the warrant. Last Tuesday, Mr Justice Tony Hunt said he believes he will endorse a European Arrest Warrant, but he adjourned the matter until this Thursday, to allow him hear submissions from Bailey’s legal representatives before making his final decision.
"I believe I will endorse it because I feel it complies with the Act," said Mr Justice Hunt, before stressing that endorsing the warrant "is not an endorsement of anything else and I want that to be clearly understood." The lawyer for Sophie Toscan du Plantier’s family, Alain Spilliaert, explained that the first warrant referred to a ‘murder’ charge, whereas the new warrant is for the different crime of ‘voluntary homicide’. He added that murder implies pre-meditation which was what an earlier judge, Judge Patrick Gachon, had sought before concluding his investigation, but that the Parisian DPP, Francois Molins, had advised a charge of voluntary homicide after reading the completed file.
Meanwhile, lawyers for Bailey will go before the Court of Appeal this week, to appeal against the outcome of his unsuccessful High Court case two years ago, in which he sought damages against the State for wrongful arrest and conspiracy to frame him for Ms Toscan du Plantier’s murder. The seven men and four women took just over two hours to reach their unanimous verdict dismissing Bailey’s civil action for damages over the conduct of the investigation into the murder and the claim that gardai conspired to implicate him in Ms Toscan du Plantier’s murder. Bailey has consistently denied any involvement in her killing and has denied ever making any admissions in relation to her death.
At the beginning of this month, Hot Press' ‘writer-at-large’ Olaf Tyaransen – who, coincidentally, first met Bailey at a press conference in Cork in advance of the release of Neil Jordan’s Michael Collins movie just weeks before the controversial murder – conducted a lengthy interview with Bailey at his home in West Cork. Unfortunately, due to the ongoing legal proceedings, we are waiting for the appropriate moment to publish it.
Today, however, Olaf met with Ian Bailey in Dublin to discuss his current legal proceedings, living with suspicion for 20 years, a documentary by Jim Sheridan about his fascinating case… and Bailey’s soon to be published poetry collection, The West Cork Way (which includes a poem dedicated to his solicitor, Frank Buttimer). For the very first time, Bailey also reads a brand new poem related to his current circumstances.