The British journalist-turned poet has never been charged here, never mind convicted.
Speaking to the Irish Mirror, he said: “I never met Sophie or knew her. I saw her in the distance that was it.
“She lived a few kilometres away from us in Skull.
To his lawyer Ian Bailey is one of the most unluckiest people around.
Frank Buttimer, is a Cork court legend and one of the best briefs in the business.
“Ian is eccentric, he sometimes says silly things, but he is not a killer.
“Yes he assaulted his girlfriend once in a row but Jules (Thomas) has stayed with him all these years through thick and thin.
“This one incident does not mean he took Sophie’s life.”
Sophie had been staying at her holiday hideaway in West Cork, at the time of her murder.
Two days before Christmas 1996, the body of the glamorous 39-year-old TV producer was discovered near her remote Irish cottage with her skull crushed.
Working at the time as a freelance reporter, Bailey was one of the first reporters on the scene.
Days later a rumour began that a woman who had been walking home at dawn on the morning of the murder had spotted a man who resembled Bailey washing his boots in a stream.
There was also a rumour that a man had been seen burning clothes on the morning after the murder.
Seven weeks later, the gardai arrested Bailey and his Welsh girlfriend, Jules Thomas.
Although arrested five times in total in connection with the murder, Bailey was never charged by Irish prosecutors. Irish courts have also refused to extradite him to France.
Buttimer told the Irish Mirror the whole Garda investigation into the case has been a mess from the start.
Firstly the crime scene was not sealed off and her body was left outside in plastic for 24 hours.
Because it was Christmas, the then state pathologist Dr John Harbison was delayed in getting there.
”At first there were 50 suspects, and then in a matter of weeks it was suddenly whittled down to Ian, they never seriously looked at anyone else,” said Buttimer.
There was absolutely no evidence putting Ian at the crime scene.
Two gardai saw scratches on Ian’s face which he got by plucking a turkey and the next thing he was in the frame.
Their evidence was part of the case built against him in France.
“The whole French trial was bul****t. Ian wasn’t represented and they were presenting heresay as fact. It was a complete and utter farce.
“And then the three judges sentence him to 25 years in his absence.
“Ian Bailey is 64 years old. If he ever goes into a French prison, he will never get out of it.
“The French will keep moving him around. He won’t get any visitors, he will die there.”
The French are now in the middle of their third attempt to get Bailey extradited to France.
The judgment will be delivered by the Irish High Court on October 12 next.
If Bailey wins Buttimer says the French should leave him alone and let him get on with his life.
He nevertheless fears this won’t happen and one way or the other they will end up in the Supreme Court.
Bailey himself is convinced there is unfinished business in the Garda investigation.
He can’t understand why the police haven’t made a public appeal to find a blue Ford car that was seen speeding out of the area around 7.30am on the morning the body was found.
Ian also told the Mirror: ”A local man made a statement saying he was nearly put into the ditch by the other vehicle, it was going that fast and acting suspiciously.
“Somebody was in a hurry to get out of the area, we would love to know who it is.”
The murder mystery has spawned a hit podcast West Cork and two new documentaries. Jim Sheridan is helming one of them that he has been working on for over five years.
For many years many people have speculated that a hired hitman killed the mother of one.
Frank Buttimer believes her late husband Daniel is not the saint the French make him out to be.
“I am convinced he was a bit of a Frankenstein character.
“Lets just be honest, do you not think it very strange that he never bothered coming over to Ireland after he was told his wife was murdered?
“Most normal people would be on the next plane.
“Now I know he didn’t have a legal obligation to come and claim her body, but yet to me it beggared belief.
“I know they had relationship issues and regularly rowed.
“He owned that house in Skull. He paid for it, yet he didn’t actually visit it until shortly before he died. How bizarre is that?”
The wealthy French filmmaker died in 2003 and Sophie was the third of his four wives.
He had five children – two sons and three daughters.
In an interview published in Le Figaro in 1998, Daniel said: ”You have to say to yourself somewhere on earth is the person who did it. There is a devil in the hills of southern Ireland.”
Ian Bailey and Frank Buttimer both hope some day the devil will be found and Sophie can rest in peace.