- 22 Jan 24
Ian Bailey, notorious murder suspect, former journalist and poet dies aged 66.
It is understood that Mr Bailey, 66, collapsed yesterday afternoon in Bantry where he lived. He had been experiencing health problems for some time, telling the Irish Times in an interview last year that he had suffered 75 per cent damage to his heart and that Doctor's were putting him on medication to try to build up the organ so that he would be strong enough to undergo a bypass in March or April of 2024
Emergency services were called to assist Mr Bailey after he collapsed, but he was unresponsive.
Mr Buttimer said he was extremely saddened to hear the news of Mr Bailey's death.
He said he had known him for 27 years and had had a lot of interaction with him in a professional capacity, acting for him in a number of legal proceedings among which were his two arrests in connection to the Sophie Tuscan du Plantier murder.
Sophie Tuscan du Plantier was found dead outside her West Cork home near Schull on the morning of 23 December 1996. To date no one has stood trial for the French actor's death.
Mr Bailey, a former journalist, was arrested twice by gardaí investigating Ms Toscan du Plantier's death.
However, the Director of Public Prosecutions decided no charge was to be brought in relation to her murder, as the DPP found there was insufficient evidence to proceed to trial.
Despite insisting on his innocence, he was convicted in his absence of the murder by a French court in 2020 and a 25-year sentence was imposed on him. The High Court in Ireland ruled that he should not be extradited to France to face that jail term.
Bailey was also embroiled in a legal battle in 2003, suing 6 newspapers for libel. He was unsuccessful in this lawsuit. Bailey also lost a wrongful arrest case against the Gardaí, Minister for Justice, and Attorney General in 2015.
His involvement as a suspect in the Sophie Toscan du Plantier murder case was highly publicised, becoming the subject of a plethora of documentaries, podcasts, and tv shows, with the view also frequently emerging that other leads – and potential suspects – were not properly followed up by the Gardaí investigating the case.
Among the most successful media responses was the Audible award winning podcast West Cork, which debuted in February 2018 and is now the audio platform's most listened to podcast of all time.
In 2021, Netflix made a three-part series about the unsolved murder titled Sophie: A Murder in West Cork. That same year the Irish film producer and writer Jim Sheridan also made a documentary about it entitled Murder At The Cottage: The Search for Justice for Sophie, made in association with Sky Crime.
In June 2022, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris sanctioned a cold-case examination of the 1993 murder, a move welcomed by Mr Bailey.
Speaking on the cold case examination, Mr Bailey said: “Twelve months ago, I wrote to Commissioner Drew Harris as ‘a clean pair of hands’ asking him to review the case. I today heard via the media that a review has been sanctioned and I clearly welcome that".
Hearing news of Mr Bailey’s death, Ms Toscan du Plantier’s uncle, Jean Pierre Gazeau, said: “We have never had any doubt that Ian Bailey was the killer... Now, our fear is that we will never reach the full truth of what happened so I would urge the Irish Garda to continue with their investigation to be absolutely sure that Bailey was the culprit.”