Ian Bailey ‘praying truth will come out’ about murder

A former journalist convicted of the murder of a French film director’s wife in Ireland more than 20 years ago has said he is praying the truth will come out.

Ian Bailey, 62, was found guilty by a Paris court in his absence on Friday of killing Sophie Toscan du Plantier, 39, following a trial of only three days after Irish authorities twice refused to extradite him.

Bailey said claims he was the culprit represented a “bundle of lies”.

Sophie Toscan du Plantier
Sophie Toscan du Plantier

He told Irish broadcaster RTE: “I know there are people in this country who know that it was not me that was the culprit.

“And I know that, sitting on that, my prayer has been that the truth will come out.”

Ms Toscan du Plantier’s battered body was found on an isolated hillside in Toormore, near Schull, west Cork, two days before Christmas in 1996.

French presiding judge Frederique Aline on Friday listed all the evidence presented to the court during the trial, saying there was “significant evidence” of Bailey’s guilt.

She ordered that he be imprisoned for 25 years, directed that a new EU arrest warrant be issued and said there would be an announcement on June 11 about how much compensation he would be told to pay Ms Toscan du Plantier’s family.

Pierre Baudey-Vignaud with his lawyers
Pierre Baudey-Vignaud with his lawyers

Bailey said, given that it’s a bank holiday weekend in Ireland, he may be waiting on a knock on the door from Tuesday.

He added that he was continuing with life in Co Cork, “business as usual”, and the trial outcome was “water off a duck’s back”.

He said Ms du Plantier’s family was told a “bundle of lies from the beginning”, that somehow he was the culprit.

“They chose to believe that and they still have my sympathy.”

The victim was the wife of celebrated cinematographer Daniel Toscan du Plantier and her death has been one of Ireland’s most famous unsolved killings.

Bailey, who lived three kilometres from Ms Toscan du Plantier, was arrested twice in connection with the death but was never charged, amid allegations of incompetence and corruption against local Irish police.

The trial was heard at the Cour d’Assises in Paris
The trial was heard at the Cour d’Assises in Paris

Marie Farrell, the only witness to put him at the scene at the time of the killing, later retracted her evidence, claiming she had been groomed and bullied by investigators into giving false evidence.

The case has taken many twists and turns over the years, including Bailey bringing a successful defamation case against newspapers in 2014.

Frustrated by the lack of progress in Ireland, the French authorities started their own investigation in 2008 – even exhuming Ms Toscan du Plantier’s body in the hope of finding further forensic evidence.

Bailey’s trial at the Cour d’Assises in Paris – the region’s highest criminal court – was conducted at what would appear breakneck speed to an Irish or British spectator.

A judge and two professional magistrates heard live evidence from just two Irish witnesses and relied primarily on read statements.

The court repeatedly returned to Ms Farrell’s evidence despite her retraction and the fact she is considered an unreliable witness by Irish authorities.