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British journalist found guilty of murdering French directors wife in 1996

Ian Bailey has been convicted by a French court over the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier
Ian Bailey has been convicted by a French court over the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier (Picture: PA)

A former journalist has been found guilty of murdering a French woman in Ireland more than 20 years ago.

Ian Bailey, 62, was convicted in his absence of killing Sophie Toscan du Plantier, 39, after Irish authorities refused to extradite him twice.

Following a three-day trial, a judge sentenced Bailey to 25 years in jail and ordered for a new EU arrest warrant to be issued.

Ms Toscan du Plantiers battered body was found on an isolated hillside in Toormore, near Schull, west Cork, two days before Christmas in 1996, a Paris court heard.

She was the wife of director Daniel Toscan du Plantier and her death has been one of Irelands most famous unsolved killings.

Bailey, originally from Manchester, lived three kilometres from Ms Toscan du Plantier and was arrested twice in connection with the death.

Media set up in a room in the Palais de Justice de Paris, where the trial of Ian Bailey will take place, 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
Media set up in a room in the Palais de Justice de Paris (Picture: PA)

 former British journalist Ian Bailey

Ian Bailey was found guilty of the murder in the French court (Picture: PA)

But he was never charged, amid allegations of incompetence and corruption against the local gardai.

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Judge Frederique Aline today concluded there was significant evidence of Baileys guilt and will announce on June 11 how much compensation he will pay Ms Toscan du Plantiers family.

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

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.

French authorities decided to start their own investigation in 2008 – even exhuming Ms Toscan du Plantiers body in the hope of finding further forensic evidence.

Sophie Toscan du Plantier
Sophie Toscan du Plantiers body was found in 1996 (Picture: PA)

The Cour dAssises heard accounts describing deep scratches Bailey had to his hands and forehead on December 23 – the day Ms Toscan du Plantiers body was found.

Bailey said he received the injuries while killing and plucking three turkeys and cutting down a Christmas tree the previous day.

But witnesses who watched him play his bodhran – a traditional Irish drum – with his sleeves rolled up in the Galley pub in Schull on the evening of December 22, said they did not see any scratches.

Bailey has lived in West Cork since the mid-1990s after quitting his career as a journalist and now runs a business selling pizza at local markets with his partner Ms Thomas.

Ms Toscan du Plantiers son Pierre-Louis Baudey-Vignaud, who was 14 when she was killed, has been at the forefront of the familys campaign for justice and called Bailey a monster.

(left to right) Pierre Baudey-Vignaud, the son of victim Ms Toscan du Plantier, standing with lawyers for the victim
Pierre Baudey-Vignaud (lefRead More – Source
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