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Sophie's son says he can 'never find peace' as murder case is reopened

Evoke.ie logo Evoke.ie 01/07/2022 Ian Begley

Sophie Toscan du Plantier’s family have given a ‘cautious’ welcome to the announcement of a coldcase review into her murder – but her son admitted that ‘every day is a nightmare’.

Gardaí have found potential new evidence following a review of a file previously submitted to the DPP. French filmmaker Ms Toscan du Plantier, 39, was found dead on a laneway leading to her holiday home in Schull, Co. Cork, on December 23, 1996.

New avenues will be explored in the full-scale reassessment of the nearly 26-year-long investigation, along with potential witnesses who could prove vital in achieving a successful outcome.

Speaking to the Irish Daily Mail, Sophie’s uncle Jean Pierre Gazeau said he will travel to Schull in September along with a number of family members.

Sophie Toscan du Plantier's son Pierre-Louis Baudey-Vignaud, arrives at the Court of Appeal in Paris for the trial of Ian Bailey, who is accused of the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier who was brutally beaten to death outside her holiday home in Schull on the west coast of Ireland in 1996. Pic: PA © Provided by Evoke.ie Sophie Toscan du Plantier's son Pierre-Louis Baudey-Vignaud, arrives at the Court of Appeal in Paris for the trial of Ian Bailey, who is accused of the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier who was brutally beaten to death outside her holiday home in Schull on the west coast of Ireland in 1996. Pic: PA

However, Mr Gazeau, who runs an association dedicated to the investigation, said he is not getting his hopes up as his family have ‘been let down so many times in the past’.

‘My initial reaction to this review is one of positivity, but at the same time I’m very cautious,’ he said. ‘We’ve had so many disappointments over the past 25 years so we don’t want to get our hopes up.

‘I don’t know for certain how much the two documentaries that aired earlier this year helped the gardaí in their investigation, but we appreciate their continuous efforts in this case again.’

He added: ‘We plan to come to Ireland in September and visit the very nice people of Schull who have been so supportive and kind to us since the very beginning.

Death of Sophie Toscan du Plantier sitting on top of a grass covered field: Sophie Toscan du Plantier Pic: Getty © Provided by Evoke.ie Sophie Toscan du Plantier Pic: Getty

‘It’ll be great to see them all and listen to them talk about their memories of Sophie.’ Asked if he would be willing to speak with chief suspect Ian Bailey while he’s in Ireland, Mr Gazeau said: ‘Absolutely not.’

‘That would be superficial and no good could ever come of meeting with him,’ he added. He said that ‘this a problem of justice and for the police to solve once and for all’.

Earlier, Sophie’s son, PierreLouis Baudey-Vignaud, said his life continues to be a living nightmare 25 years on from his mother’s murder.

‘I have to pay a lot of lawyers – so it’s a nightmare, it’s still a nightmare,’ he told Seán Moncrieff on Newstalk. ‘You can never find some peace with this sort of thing.

Ian Bailey and Jules Thomas. Pic: Collins Courts. © Provided by Evoke.ie Ian Bailey and Jules Thomas. Pic: Collins Courts.

'Every day, every week for 25 years I have information, I have an exchange with journalists, with people in Ireland, with people in France. So every day it’s a nightmare.’

The grief-stricken son, who was only 15 when his mother was killed, expressed hopes that new technologies in DNA may reveal who was responsible for the violent crime. He remarked: ‘I think this new team is quite busy, and so they need to study the case.

And they were waiting for the DPP decision. ‘I’ve been waiting for 25 years for the justice – so for me, it’s not so long a delay.’

He continued: ‘I think there is a lot of pressure from the public opinion, from the media, from the European Commission – because Ireland decided to not extradite [Ian] Bailey to France. I think also there is a lot of pressure from the people in Ireland.’

Sophie Toscan du Plantier, a French film producer who was beaten to death outside her holiday home near Toormore, Skibbereen, County Cork, Ireland. Pic: PA © Provided by Evoke.ie Sophie Toscan du Plantier, a French film producer who was beaten to death outside her holiday home near Toormore, Skibbereen, County Cork, Ireland. Pic: PA

He expressed the view that the Irish justice system needs ‘answers for the country and for the people', adding : ‘[With] this new investigation, the DPP recognises that the gardaí and the team of the DPP made some mistakes during the previous investigations. ‘

So they need to go further – and maybe with the new technologies, they think that they can prove something.’ One such advancement in technology that could prove very helpful for gardaí is the use of M-Vac Systems.

This technology has the ability to extract DNA lying deep in rock surfaces and was not available 25 years ago. The bloody rock that was used to bludgeon the 39-year-old filmmaker to death still remains in Garda custody.

Mr Baudey-Vignaud added that he acknowledges the high levels of anger felt in Irish society over the unsolved crime. ‘There is still a murderer in Ireland, so if I was Irish and I was living in Ireland I should be angry,’ he continued.

Ian Bailey. Pic: Collins © Provided by Evoke.ie Ian Bailey. Pic: Collins

‘I think most people in Ireland are more angry than me. I keep fighting for the justice of my mother and the justice of the Irish people.’

Mr Bailey, 65, who has been the main suspect in the murder case for decades, told the Mail this week that he is willing to fully cooperate with gardaí in their investigation and is hopeful its outcome will uncover ‘the truth’ into what really happened.

He remarked: ‘Clearly, I welcome this move and am on record in having said I am prepared to cooperate in any way I can with a meaningful and objective review of this case.

‘It has been my hope and prayer for a quarter of a century that the truth as it pertains to me – that I have nothing to do with this terrible crime – will come out.’

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