High Court judge expresses his condolences to family of Sophie Toscan du Plantier

Ian Bailey is wanted in France to face a 25-year prison sentence for the murder of Ms du Plantier and the three-day extradition hearing commenced yesterday in the Irish High Court.
High Court judge expresses his condolences to family of Sophie Toscan du Plantier
Ian Bailey arriving to the High Court this morning for his extradition hearing. Picture: Collins Courts

A High Court judge has expressed his condolences to the family of filmmaker Sophie Toscan du Plantier, whose badly beaten body was found outside her holiday home in Schull nearly 24 years ago, on the second day of Ian Bailey's extradition hearing.

Addressing the court this morning, Mr Justice Paul Burns said that court hearings of any kind are distressing but the "dry nature" of these extradition proceedings should not be taken that anyone has forgotten the tragic nature of Ms du Plantier's death.

Ronan Munro SC, for Mr Bailey, also submitted to the court that it seems the European Arrest Warrants (EAWs) against his client will never stop and very little consideration has been given to the prejudicial effect on him.

Counsel asked the judge to "put a stop to" this abuse of process and let him get on with his life.

Mr Bailey is wanted in France to face a 25-year prison sentence for the murder of Ms du Plantier and the three-day extradition hearing commenced yesterday in the Irish High Court.

It is the third time French authorities are seeking Mr Bailey’s surrender in relation to the mother-of-one's death in Schull in December 1996.

The Englishman, 63, with an address at The Prairie, Liscaha, Schull, west Cork, was convicted of the French woman’s murder in his absence in a Paris court in May 2019.

The three-judge Cour d’Assises (criminal trial court) in Paris accordingly imposed a 25-year prison sentence on Mr Bailey in his absence.

Mr Bailey, who denies any involvement in Ms du Plantier's death, did not attend the French court and had no legal representation in the proceedings, which he has described as a “farce”.

In a sworn affidavit to the High Court, Mr Bailey said he had nothing to do with the murder of Ms du Plantier.

He said that whilst he has not been the subject of criminal court proceedings in Ireland, he has been subject to the criminal process and his standing had suffered greatly in the small rural community where he lives.

He tries not to dwell "on being hunted" and writing poetry has had a cathartic effect on him, he said.

Mr Bailey was arrested at the Criminal Courts of Justice Building on foot of a European Arrest Warrant in December 2019.

He was remanded on bail after a High Court judge subsequently endorsed the third European Arrest Warrant (EAW) seeking his extradition to France.

At the outset of today's hearing, Mr Justice Burns inquired if there were any members of Ms du Plantier's family in court and a legal representative for the family raised her hand.

The judge said the nature of extradition law can seem "cold and dry" and observed that court hearings of any kind are distressing.

However, the judge said that these extradition proceedings should not be taken that anyone has forgotten the tragic nature of Ms du Plantier's death.

Mr Justice Burns expressed his condolences to the family of Ms du Plantier but pointed out that the court must deal with the law.

Filmmaker Sophie Toscan du Plantiers body was found outside her holiday home in Schull nearly 24 years ago. Picture: File photo
Filmmaker Sophie Toscan du Plantiers body was found outside her holiday home in Schull nearly 24 years ago. Picture: File photo

Following this, Mr Munro said he shared in acknowledging the tragedy that had happened.

Opposing an application for Mr Bailey's surrender to France for a second day, Mr Munro said it would not have made any difference to his client if the Criminal Law (Extraterritorial Jurisdiction) Act 2019 had applied in the 1990's.

The barrister argued that the French authorities lost the entitlement to mount a further attempt to extradite his client in 2017, when the High Court dismissed the second extradition request in respect of Mr Bailey as an “abuse of process”.

Mr Munro said the second extradition attempt by the French authorities was a "deliberate decision" and a "tactical ploy".

"Very little consideration has been given to the prejudicial effect on Mr Bailey which was doomed to fail and it was a direct assault of the decision of the Supreme Court in 2012," continued Mr Munro, adding that the second request was basically saying that the Irish Supreme Court had got it wrong.

The lawyer said that when "the gamble" was taken to issue a second extradition request against Mr Bailey in 2017, which the French authorities had lost, it "forever closed the door" on future extradition requests being issued against him.

"That was the turning point and now they have lost the right," he added.

Mr Munro said it seemed that these extradition warrants would never stop.

"If Mr Bailey is not treated equally it becomes abusive and that is why we are here to restore equality and eliminate the abuse," he remarked.

In summary, counsel said the abuse of process against his client was only getting worse.

"This court should put a stop to it and find it's an abuse of process and let Mr Bailey get on with his life and let the police get on with their job," he concluded.

French authorities previously sought the surrender of Mr Bailey in 2010 but this application was refused by the Supreme Court in 2012, which held that section 44 of the European Arrest Warrant Act 2003 prohibited surrender because the alleged offence was committed outside French territory and Irish law did not allow prosecution for the same offence when committed outside its territory by a non-Irish citizen.

Mr Bailey is a British citizen.

A second French extradition request in respect of Mr Bailey was dismissed as an “abuse of process” by the High Court in July 2017.

On that occasion, Mr Justice Tony Hunt held that the “unique features” of the case justified “termination” of the proceedings.

He said the Minister was “estopped” or halted from obtaining an order for Mr Bailey's surrender in light of the Supreme Court's judgement in 2012 on identical relevant facts.

Mr Bailey and filmmaker Jim Sheridan were present in court for today's hearing.

David Conlan Smyth SC, also for Mr Bailey, will continue to make legal submissions regarding his client's fair trial rights before Mr Justice Burns this afternoon.

More in this section

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox

LOTTO RESULTS

Saturday, September 26, 2020

  • 5
  • 7
  • 8
  • 13
  • 18
  • 25
  • 26

Full Lotto draw results »