A 39-year-old TV producer was discovered with her skull crushed near her remote cottage in a close-knit rural community of Ireland, in a case that remains unsolved to this day.
Sophie Toscan du Plantier, born in Paris, was found just one day before Christmas Eve 1996 and to this day the mysterious murder case remains unsolved.
Her bludgeoned corpse was discovered by a neighbour who reportedly couldn’t stop screaming as she called the police.
Sophie had been dressed in her nightgown which had been tangled in barbed wire. A heavy concrete block covered in blood was found nearby.
Due to the remoteness of rural West Cork, it took the police over five hours to arrive at the scene, meaning her dead body was left outside for at least 12 hours.
The forensics team found it hard to find anything substantial to help solve the case as the corpse had been left in the freezing cold and exposed to the elements for over half a day.
Sophie’s murder caused a massive investigation across France and Ireland. Both sides desperately wanted answers.
A journalist from Manchester, Ian Bailey, was looking into Sophie’s murder and publishing newspaper articles about the case when he became the prime suspect.
He has consistently denied any involvement and has never been charged in the UK for her death.
A French court found Bailey guilty of murder in May 2019 and he was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
But the high court ruled against him being extradited for the crime.
Bailey moved to Cork from Manchester in 1991 and now says he is « trapped » there due to Ireland’s High Court ruling which states he cannot be extradited from the country.
Many investigators believed Bailey was guilty despite there being no forensic evidence linking him to the murder.
A key witness also retracted her testimony after saying the police had coerced her into making it.
Bailey was deemed a prime suspect when he was found with cuts on his face and hands, something he claims occurred after plucking a turkey for Christmas.
The journalist also held a record of domestic violence with his Welsh partner, Jules Thomas.
He also admitted leaving his cottage to go to a ‘nearby shed’ alone to write an article on the night of the murder.
Bailey told The Southern Star that his life has been « absolutely tortured by a false narrative » and is writing to the Garda Síochána Commissioner (head of the national police force of the Republic of Ireland) to reinvestigate the case.
He added: « This has ruined my life, it has completely tortured me, it has tortured Jules [his ex-partner] and it led to the breakdown of our relationship. »
Sophie Toscan du Plantier was born in Paris on July 28, 1957. She was staying at her holiday home in Cork, Ireland when she was brutally murdered.
She frequented Ireland from her home in Paris where she lived with her husband Daniel Toscan du Plantier, French film producer, and 13-year-old son, Pierre Louis Baudey-Vignaud.
A documentary on the mysterious case is currently available on Sky and a Netflix doc is due to air on June 30th.
Ian Bailey has called the upcoming Netflix doc a « piece of biased, inimical, poisonous propaganda ».
He added: « It is based entirely on a false narrative, the same false narrative which was used to convict me in my absence in France, linking me to a crime that I had nothing to do with and it will most assuredly demonise me. »