A European arrest warrant is expected to be issued in the coming months for Ian Bailey following his conviction for the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier yesterday in Paris. Bailey was found guilty of the murder of Ms du Plantier following five hours of deliberation by the three-judge court.
He was sentenced to 25 years in prison and a warrant for his arrest was issued by Judge Frédérique Aline. In a ruling that took 35 minutes to read out at the Cour d’Assises, Judge Aline cited different strands of evidence that collectively went to the guilty verdict.
These included evidence that Bailey had scratches on his hands on December 23, 1996 — the day Ms du Plantier’s body was found — but none the previous day; allegations from a number of people that he admitted killing Ms du Plantier; an eyewitness account by Maria Farrell that she saw Bailey in the early hours of December 23 not far from Ms du Plantier’s home; evidence that he had known Ms du Plantier prior to the murder despite always claiming he did not; and a psychological profile presented to the court that concluded that Bailey had a “borderline” personality.
Ms du Plantier’s family, including her only child, Pierre Louis Baudey Vignaud, hugged each other after the verdict was issued. The trial was the culmination of an 11-year campaign by the family and an association of friends to find out the truth about Ms du Plantier’s death.
“That man killed my mother 22 years ago and this was the first trial that concentrated on the facts in either France or Ireland,” Mr Baudey Vignaud told the Irish Examiner. “So now we turn to the next step and it is clear that, one day, Ian Bailey who killed my mother will go to jail.”
Bailey has always denied any involvement in Ms du Plantier’s death and the DPP has repeatedly ruled there was insufficient evidence to charge him with the crime. Mr Bailey’s solicitor, Frank Buttimer, last night called the verdict a “grotesque miscarriage of justice”.
“It is a shameful episode in Irish criminal justice that we have allowed this to happen,” said Mr Buttimer. “The Department of Justice has questions to answer about how it could have abandoned our criminal justice system. For Mr Bailey personally, but the bigger picture is it’s an abandonment of our independence to a foreign power in this regard.”
Mr Baudey Vignaud said he is confident Bailey will be extradited to France. He said:
Of course France will succeed in extradition. And I think Irish justice will see to that for sure, we are brothers, Ireland and France.
Two previous attempts to extradite Bailey were rejected by the High Court and the Supreme Court. Now, however, the basis for extradition may be different as Bailey is subject of a murder conviction in France.
The four-day trial heard from a number of French witnesses, largely about Ms du Plantier, but also from two French investigators who had travelled to Ireland. It also heard from two Irish-based witnesses — but another dozen failed to respond to requests to travel for the trial.
Most of the evidence consisted of statements originally given to the gardaí in the months after the killing. The trial also included the opinion of French investigators and a psychological report of Mr Bailey compiled from diaries and interviews he gave but did not include any meeting with the subject.
Bailey says he’s been in a ‘John Wayne state of mind’
Ian Bailey said he was “staying calm” ahead of the guilty verdict at a trial in France yesterday afternoon. In a video interview in Bantry yesterday morning with Irish Examiner photographer Dan Linehan, Mr Bailey said he has a lot of support.
“I’m in good company and I have got a lot of support and I am staying calm in the eye of the hurricane,” he said. Speaking to a member of the public about his poetry book, Mr Bailey said he is working on a second collection called I’m in a John Wayne State of Mind.
He said: “I’m trying to have that out — if I’m at liberty and can do it — by maybe the Bantry Literary Festival.” The West Cork Literary Festival takes place in Bantry from Friday, July 12, to Friday, July 19.
Asked if he has been in “a John Wayne state of mind” over the trial in France, Mr Bailey replied:
You bet I have been.
When asked further about the trial, Mr Bailey said: “I can’t really say too much.” Mr Bailey said that he has not had any thoughts on the trial and is “under strict instructions to say nothing other than I remain calm in the eye of the hurricane”.
The 62-year-old was tried in absentia in France for the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier in West Cork.
He denies the charge. Ms Toscan du Plantier was killed outside Schull two days before Christmas in 1996.
She was the wife of famous director Daniel Toscan du Plantier, and the case is one of the country’s most famous unsolved murders. Mr Bailey has branded the case in France a “show trial”.