Sophie Toscan du Plantier murder: Ireland REJECTS extradition of British man to France

Irish court REJECTS attempt by France to extradite British man convicted in his absence of murdering movie producer’s wife outside her holiday home in Cork

  • Ian Bailey, 63, wanted in France over 1996 murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier  
  • British journalist was convicted of her killing in absentia in France last year 
  • Ireland’s High Court has today rejected France’s attempt to have him extradited  
  • If the request had gone ahead, Bailey was facing 25 years in a French jail 

A British journalist will not be extradited to France over the murder of a famous film director’s wife, Ireland’s High Court has ruled.  

Ian Bailey, 63, was tried and convicted in absentia of the 1996 murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier in a French court last year.

Bailey was arrested in Dublin in December last year on an international warrant after the case wrapped up, and extradition proceedings got underway.

Following a three-day hearing, Bailey has now been told that he will not be forced to go to France, where he had been facing 25 years behind bars. 

Ian Bailey at Ireland's High Court

Ian Bailey (pictured today) will not be extradited to France to face jail for the 1996 murder of film director’s wife Sophie Toscan du Plantier, Ireland’s High Court has revealed

It is the third time that French authorities have tried to have Bailey extradited.

The first attempt was rejected after judges ruled that French and Irish laws relating to crimes committed outside their own territories were not reciprocal.

The law was subsequently changed, RTE reports, and the French tried again to have Bailey extradited, but the case was thrown out for abuse of process. 

Bailey’s lawyers had been arguing that the third attempt also constituted abuse of process, ahead of today’s ruling.

It was not immediately clear on what grounds the ruling was based. France and Ireland have no formal extradition treaty. 

Ms Toscan du Plantier, wife of Daniel Toscan du Plantier, was found dead outside her holiday home near Toormore, west Cork, two days before Christmas in 1996.

She was found on an isolated hillside, had been beaten over the head with a concrete block, and marks on her arms suggested she struggled with her attacker. 

Bailey, who lived around six miles from the murder scene, soon emerged as the prime suspect.

He was found to have scratches to his arms and face, and also had a history of domestic violence.

He was arrested and questioned in February 1997 and again in 1998, but never arrested since police could find no forensic evidence linking him to the crime. 

Sophie Toscan du Plantier, a French woman who was murdered in Ireland in 1996, is pictured (above) in an undated image taken in the French southern village of Combret

Sophie Toscan du Plantier, a French woman who was murdered in Ireland in 1996, is pictured (above) in an undated image taken in the French southern village of Combret

Bailey denied being the murderer, claiming he got the scratches cutting down a Christmas tree and carving a turkey.

He has denied even knowing Ms Toscan du Plantier, claiming to have seen her once, but never to have met her.

Witness Marie Farrell subsequently came forward to claim that she had seen Bailey at the scene of the crime, but later retracted her evidence, saying that gardaí had pressured her into making the statements.

Several other witnesses claimed that Bailey admitted to them that he was the murderer – evidence that was submitted during the French trial. 

Ireland has twice refused to send him to France to stand trial, saying police had questioned him twice about the killing but failed to find any substantive evidence.

It has also cited the lack of an extradition agreement with France.

Only due to a quirk of France’s Napoleonic law that allows crimes against French citizens to be tried in their own courts, no matter where in the world they were committed, that Bailey was tried and sentenced in Paris earlier this year. 

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