Jim Sheridan’s series on Sophie murder to show ‘unseen footage’
Sophie Toscan du Plantier was killed in Cork in 1996
November 17 2020 02:30 AM
A new documentary-style series on the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier by director Jim Sheridan and journalist Donal MacIntyre is due for release on Sky next year.
The production companies behind the five-part series claim it will show “original” evidence and “never-before-seen footage” in the notorious case.
Sheridan recorded hundreds of hours of footage over five years for the series and also appears in front of the camera.
Titled Murder at the Cottage: The search for justice for Sophie, the series will examine the circumstances surrounding the brutal killing of the young French TV producer in Schull, Co Cork in 1996.
The series also promises interviews with those closest to the case, including access to Sophie’s family and to Ian Bailey, who was found guilty of murder in absentia by a French court in 2019 and sentenced to 25 years in prison.
He has been twice arrested in Ireland but was never charged here in relation to her death.
Former journalist Mr Bailey has successfully fought repeated extradition attempts from the French authorities.
He still lives in west Cork and maintains his innocence.
Dublin director Sheridan, who narrates the series, said: “This is a story that has fascinated me for over two decades.
“It’s a murder that carries implications for the meaning of justice in Ireland, in France and in the UK, that calls into question the meaning of Europe, as the convicted man in France is free in Ireland.
“It’s a story that calls into question the meaning and process of the police and the legal system. It’s a story that shines a light on domestic violence.
“I would like to thank all those who have contributed to this series but in particular to Sophie’s family, who are still searching for justice,” he added.
The six-time Oscar nominated director worked on the series with Donal MacIntyre, who has a production company, Dare Films.
The series is produced by Hell’s Kitchen in association with Sky Studios.
Sheridan, who previously directed My Left Foot, In America and In the Name of the Father, also produced the series, along with MacIntyre.
The series is expected to air on Sky Crime next year, while a separate three-part documentary series on the murder will also be released on Netflix.
Tue, 17 Nov, 2020 – 07:10
Ian Bailey has been subjected to a “life-destroying Kafkaesque nightmare” because of the repetitive court appearances in relation to the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, a leading legal expert has said.
Professor Dermot Walsh said the “silver lining” in the protracted legal battles has been the “integrity” of the Irish prosecution service, the DPP, and the “tenacity” of the Irish courts.
Prof. Walsh made the comments in a detailed analysis of the decision last month of the High Court, which rejected a third extradition request from France.
The most recent European Arrest Warrant was for Mr Bailey to serve a 25-year sentence handed down by French courts for the murder of Ms du Plantier at her Schull holiday home in December 1996.
Prof. Walsh, head of Kent Law School in Britain, said he hoped the High Court decision “draws a red line” under what he said was one of the most extraordinary cases in Irish and EU criminal law.
“The decision marks the third occasion on which French authorities attempted, unsuccessfully, to secure the surrender of Ian Bailey from Ireland to be prosecuted and punished in France for a murder that was actually committed in Ireland,” he said.
The former law lecturer in University College Cork and author of various books on Irish and European law said the submission of EAWs for Mr Bailey began in 2010.
He said the case offered “disturbing insights” into how the EAW could be used to subject a person to two national criminal procedures, which, he said, combined “oppressively” to deny basic standards of due process and fairness in respect of the same criminal offence.State will not appeal refusal to extradite Ian Bailey to France
“The result for Ian Bailey (and his partner) has been a life-destroying Kafkaesque nightmare in which he has been the victim of repetitive litigation aimed at depriving him of his liberty, freedom of movement, privacy and reputation,” Prof. Walsh said.
“The silver lining in all of this has been the integrity of the Irish DPP and the tenacity of the Irish courts.
He said the State decision not to appeal the High Court decision to the Supreme Court “hopefully will finally bring an end to this most extraordinary EAW litigation and allow Ian Bailey some room to pick up the pieces of what is left of his life”.
He said the High Court’s decision was based on technical legal grounds.
The academic said the fact remained that major issues have been left unresolved.
“First and foremost is the fact that no one has been brought to justice in Ireland for the brutal murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier. This cannot be covered up by a trial and conviction in Paris that was based on unreliable and untested evidence,” he said.
“It remains the case that the original Garda investigation failed to gather credible and reliable evidence that would have warranted charging Ian Bailey or anyone else with the murder.”
He said serious questions about why that is need to be asked and “answered convincingly”.
He added: “Despite repeated litigation, a judicial inquiry and an investigation by the independent Garda Ombudsman Commission into discrete aspects of his case, disturbing questions remain around the manner and extent to which the Gardaí pursued their investigation of Bailey.
“Similarly, serious questions remain around the manner and extent to which the Irish justice ministry contributed to securing the prosecution and trial of an Irish resident in France for an Irish murder that was still officially under investigation in Ireland.”
He concluded: “Until all of these questions are answered fully and transparently, serious concerns over the administration of Irish criminal justice will persist and fester.”