Bailey named in du Plantier damages claim

THE family of murdered French woman Sophie Toscan du Plantier are seeking High Court damages against the man they believe was responsible for her death.

Freelance journalist and poet Ian Bailey, also known as Eoin, is named as the defendant in papers lodged with the High Court.

The claim, for personal injury damages, is unusual in that no one has been charged in relation to the violent death of the 39-year-old documentary television producer.

Solicitor Con Murphy, who represents Mr Bailey, said yesterday any High Court action would be strenuously contested.

Mr Bailey, who once described himself as the prime suspect, was twice arrested and questioned by gardaí, but released without charge.

Four plaintiffs are named in the action and include Sophie's parents and her only son. The fourth plaintiff was Sophie's husband, leading film maker Daniel Toscan du Plantier, who died suddenly two weeks ago.

Despite the death of 61-year-old Mr Toscan du Plantier, Sophie's immediate family parents Georges and Marguerite Bouniol and her son Pierre Louis Baudey are expected to proceed with the personal injury claim.

The Bouniol family are currently in the United States and could not be contacted.

Dublin legal firm Dore and Co, which lodged the High Court documents on behalf of the French plaintiffs, declined to comment on the matter. A principal in the firm indicated they were awaiting further instructions.

The papers were lodged in the High Court on December 19 last, four days before the sixth anniversary of Sophie's murder.

Her body, with appalling head injuries, was found on December 23 1996 lying on a lane-way leading to her converted farmhouse at Toormore, about six miles from Schull in west Cork. Despite an exhaustive investigation and a re-examination of the case on the instructions of the Director of Public Prosecutions, criminal proceedings have not been issued.

The dead woman's family are believed to have commissioned a private investigation into the case. However, gardaí who compiled a 2,000-page file may be called as witnesses in the civil hearing which has not yet been listed.

A spokesperson for the court services said: "Without being specific, it is a rare case. Personal injury claims for a fatality would normally be served in relation to cases such as industrial accidents or other accidental tragedies."

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