‘Testify at Bailey trial,’ Sophie’s son urges people of West Cork

Pierre Louis Baudey-Vignaud the son of murdered Frenchwoman Sophie Toscan du Plantier in Goleen, West Cork, for the mass for his mother at the Church of Our Lady, Star of the Sea and St Patrick. Picture Dan Linehan

It is time to bring an end to a crime that is “neither a mystery nor a legend”.

Appealing to locals in West Cork to travel to Paris to testify at the forthcoming trial of English journalist Ian Bailey, the son of murdered French woman Sophie Toscan du Plantier said it was time to find peace.

Pierre-Louis Baudey Vignaud travelled to Goleen, West Cork, with his uncle Betrand for a Mass in memory of his mother.

He told Mass-goers that his idyllic childhood had been blighted by the violent killing of his mother in West Cork in 1996.

Ms du Plantier’s battered body was found in a laneway near her cottage. Nobody has ever been charged with her killing.

Pierre-Louis stressed that Sophie had been a real flesh and blood person whose life ended in a horrifying manner. He spoke of his pride at her “resilience” in her final moments.

My mother, Sophie is not a ghost, she is the victim of human cruelty and violence which has no place here. Sophie fought like a lioness against the most atrocious violence there is.

Pierre-Louis stated his life became a “prison” overnight after his mother’s death and that it was impossible for him to come to terms with what had happened to her.

“I have been coming to Ireland for 30 years. I was eight years old the first time I came here and I was 15 years old when my mother was brutally killed. I can’t bear the thought of her blood seeping into your soil.”

He said he was drawn to the poetic and romantic image of Ireland, “the real reasons that attracted her [Sophie] here to West Cork”.

He claimed the killing was not in keeping with the soul of Ireland.

“This is a trial of a crime that does not fit with what Ireland is like and does not fit with what you, Irish people, are. This is a trial of a crime that no one, especially myself but also you, would have wanted to know about. 

"This is a trial of a crime that you and I did not deserve, whether it takes place here or in France.”

He said his mother felt at ease here. 

“She opened her door here in Ireland because she was so confident that nothing bad would happen to her. And that confidence was the reason why she chose to come to this country.”

The congregation heard that the murder of the French film producer was the “darkest page” in the history of Sophie’s family and a sad page in Irish history.

Pierre-Louis said he decided to keep his mother’s home in Toormore, near Schull, because he preferred to “believe in the trust that my mother had when she opened her door”.

Mr Bailey, who has consistently protested his innocence, will not travel to France for the trial, which starts on May 27. 

His solicitor, Frank Buttimer, described it as “a show trial for the purpose of satisfying certain persons in relation to their own beliefs in relation to the matter”.

Mr Buttimer said that Mr Bailey was in a “living nightmare”. He had been subjected to “this sort of situation” for almost 23 years.

“He can’t escape from it. He has been entirely exonerated in this country. The Director of Public Prosecutions has long since decided that there is no evidence upon which he can be put on trial.

Ian Bailey at the country market in Schull, Co. Cork, yesterday. Pic: Dan Linehan
Ian Bailey at the country market in Schull, Co. Cork, yesterday. Pic: Dan Linehan

“The French have decided that exact same evidence is sufficient to put him on trial. The situation is, quite frankly, farcical and, of course, extremely unjust.”

In the event of a murder conviction, he expected the French authorities will try for a third time to extradite Mr Bailey.

“We will resist that. The Irish courts have twice determined that he is not liable to be removed from this jurisdiction and that the application of the French was not in accordance with law. 

"It would be quite farcical to come back to seek his removal from this jurisdiction to face his sentence for a crime for which he is then been found guilty but in respect of which the Irish Supreme Court has determined that he can’t be removed in the first instance even to face trial so we would have a quite farcical situation at that point in time.”

Mr Bailey is devastated, he said. 

“He finds it extremely difficult to deal with this situation on a day-to-day, week-to-week basis, simply not knowing what is going to happen to him, where throughout all of this he has protested his innocence.

“There is no evidence to link him with the offence in so far as this jurisdiction is concerned,” he said.

More on this topic

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West Cork murder: Paris verdict does not close case

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