Sophie Toscan du Plantier was the third wife of celebrated director Daniel Toscan du Plantier – a man 16 years her senior – and a court in France heard she had struggled to adapt to their life together.
At trial, the court tried to build up a picture of a woman who was staying alone in a remote part of Ireland just before Christmas.
They met while she was working as a press attache with UniFrance – an organisation promoting French cinema – although she later moved into documentaries.
Gilbert Jacob, a close friend of Mr Toscan du Plantier who also worked in film, said Ms Toscan du Plantier would sometimes disappear for a few days, forcing her husband to search “all over Paris” for her.
“At the time, Toscan (Daniel Toscan du Plantier) had become a sort of ambassador for French cinema – he was extremely well known and extremely brilliant,” he said.
He added: “Sophie was a woman who was quite reserved, who needed from time to time to have a little calm because the life of such a producer and personality (her husband) was extremely hectic.”
Mr Jacob described Ms Toscan du Plantier as “very deep” for someone of her age, adding: “She didn’t just want to be the wife of Toscan.”
The holiday home near Schull was a gift from her husband, the court heard, and Ms Toscan du Plantier’s refuge from their life in showbusiness.
Ms Toscan du Plantier’s son Pierre-Louis Baudey-Vignaud said his mother had planned to spend just a few days at her holiday home because she would not have had another opportunity to go until Easter.
She had been due to fly back to France on Christmas Eve to meet her husband and son before they flew to Senegal to spend Christmas in Dakar.
Mr Baudey-Vignaud, who was just 14 when his mother was killed, said her decision to buy her holiday home in west Cork reflected her love of the wilderness and of simplicity.
He described her relationship with his stepfather as “passionate and romantic”, adding: “It was not just an attraction. It was something that was very profound.”
Mr Baudey-Vignaud added: “I want it to be remembered the love this person brought and the regard that everyone who knew her had for her.”
Agnes Thomas, Ms Toscan du Plantier’s best friend, said: “She loved being by the sea and she had this fascination with the beautiful view outside her house.”
Private investigator Michel Larousse gave evidence on Ms Toscan du Plantier’s personality after conducting interviews with her friends and family.
He said she “wasn’t afraid of much”, even in situations that carried a risk, citing the time she allowed a homeless person to sleep in her car and invited another homeless man to have a meal with her.
Mr Larousse said the evidence indicated the person who killed Ms Toscan du Plantier was not someone she was afraid of and she did not see it coming.