Ian Bailey dead at 66

Ian Bailey dead at 66

The chief suspect in the Sophie Toscan du Plantier case has died of a heart attack

IAN Bailey, the chief suspect for over two decades for the murder of French woman Sophie Toscan du Plantier, has died. Mr Bailey, 66, is suspected of having suffered a heart attack.

The badly beaten body of Madame du Plantier, a French film maker, was found outside her holiday home near Schull, west Cork two days before Christmas in 1996.

Mr Bailey’s death was confirmed by his long time solicitor Frank Buttimer.

It is understood Mr Bailey, collapsed on Sunday afternoon in Bantry where he lived. Despite help from passers-by and subsequent attention by paramedics, he was pronounced dead at Bantry General Hospital.

The coroner for West Cork has been informed. It is not clear whether a post-mortem will be performed given Mr Bailey’s health record — he suffered tow heart attacks late last year.

The Manchester-born man was a long time resident of west Cork.

Sophie Toscan du Plantier (Image Patrick Zimmermann/AFP via Getty Images)

Mr Buttimer said he was saddened to hear the news of Mr Bailey's death. He added that he had acted for him legally for 27 years, during which time he had got to know the Englishman very well.

Mr Bailey, a former journalist, came under suspicion early in the investigation into the killing. He always expressed his innocence, denying any knowledge of the crime, and never stood trial in Ireland. The Director of Public Prosecutions (in Ireland) always ruled that insufficient evidence existed to convict. No forensic or witness evidence ever placed Bailey at the scene of the crime.

The gardaí came under criticism for the standard of their investigations at the time

Mr Bailey was found guilty in Paris of the murder of Mme du Plantier in his absence. But in 2012 Supreme Court Judge Adrian Hardiman said, on overturning a High Court decision to allow Mr Bailey to be extradited from Ireland to France: “The fruits of the investigation have been considered not once but several times by the DPP [Director of Public Prosecutions] who has concluded and reiterated that there is no evidence to warrant a prosecution against him.”

Early in 2023 the gardaí announced that they were mounting a cold case review into all aspects of Mme du Plantier's murder.

Ian Bailey said last year that he believed that the decision was prompted by a letter he wrote to Drew Harris, Commissioner of An Garda Síochána . “I wrote to Drew Harris about a year ago [2022],” Bailey  said at the time. “. . . I asked him to review the case. I told him that I would help with any objective review of this case. I received an acknowledgement.

“My prayer has always been that the truth would come out. I would hope this might be an answer to my prayer. I don’t even believe I am a suspect anymore.”

Mr Bailey told The Times last year that even if the review failed to pinpoint the perpetrator, he hoped it would at least acknowledge that he, Bailey, “is no longer in the frame as a suspect”. However, Ian Bailey knew time was running out because of his poor health and had spoken of his fears of “not being able to clear his name” before he died.

Pierre Louis Baudey-Vignaud, Sophie’s only son — who still owns the cottage in west Cork and holidays there with his family — has expressed hopes the review into the case can still find out the fate of his mother. He has always believed that Ian Bailey was guilty, despite the absence of any evidence.

Jean Pierre Gazeau, the uncle of Mme du Plantier, on hearing about the death of Ian Bailey, told the Irish Examiner at the weekend: “We will never get the truth from him now. We know he is a killer because the judge in France ruled it so, but it is not the same judgement in Ireland. The Irish State still has not solved the case."