Gardai given name of Frenchman ‘seen with Sophie Toscan du Plantier on afternoon before her murder’
Detectives are to check out whether he secretly stayed with the French TV producer at her Schull home
Gardai have been given the name of a Frenchman reportedly seen with Sophie Toscan du Plantier on the afternoon before her murder.
Detectives are to check out whether he secretly stayed with the French TV producer at her Schull home .
The man is in his fifties and currently lives in Paris. He is known to Sophie’s late husband Daniel and also some members of the extended family.
He was allegedly spotted by Marie Farrell standing outside her shop wearing a long dark coat in the west Cork village on the last day she was seen alive while Sophie bought a copy of the French Le Monde newspaper inside.
It is understood Ms Farrell formally identified the man after she was shown a picture of him.
She had originally said the man was five foot eight inches in height and claimed it was Garda suspect Ian Bailey, who is six foot two, but subsequently retracted her statement.
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Gardai in Bantry were made aware of the new evidence by filmmaker Jim Sheridan, the director of the Sky five-part documentary on Sophie’s death, Murder At The Cottage.
Jim confirmed he passed on the information to the authorities.Cool TechThis Monocular Is The Most Amazing Invention of 2021Expert MarketMonitored Security Systems Are Revolutionising Irelandby TaboolaSponsored Links
Marie Farrell was then interviewed for two hours by detectives at Skibbereen Garda Station last week.
Mr Sheridan believes the gardai are taking the information seriously and he doesn’t know how significant it is or not.
It is understood that Sophie and the man both knew each other in Paris. In the months before she lost her life she had split from her lover, the artist Bruno Carbonnet.
Bruno had an alibi to prove he was in the French capital at the time of Sophie’s savage killing.
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Gardai had always assumed she was holidaying alone and there was no one else staying with her when she was murdered 25 years ago on the night of December 23, 1996.
It appears from the new information that the man kept a discreet distance from Sophie in Schull that day and that the two of them deliberately did not want to be seen together.
A Garda source said: “We will be obviously checking it all out. We will have to go and find this man and see when he came into and left the country.
“We need to verify if he was here and up at the house.”
Detectives have never had a fingerprint or DNA match with the forensic evidence found at the scene.
The 38-year-old beauty was murdered after her head was brutally bashed with a concrete block on her driveway, 100 yards from the front door of her holiday home.
It always seemed like a spur of the moment killing or a crime of passion.
Veteran Oscar-winning Director Sheridan is on a personal crusade to get justice for Sophie and to help solve the case.
Such is the interest surrounding his documentary and also a second Netflix show, which is released on Wednesday, on the saga that only last Friday the Gardai issued a new plea for anyone with fresh information on the murder to come forward and contact them at Bantry Garda Station.
On the same day the Garda Comissioner Drew Harris also publicly said for the first time he would consider a review of the murder.
There appears to be a growing desire at the top of the gardai to solve the riddle once and for all and to bring peace to Sophie’s elderly parents.
Marie Farrell was in the spotlight before after some of her evidence was discredited.
However a source said: “She is telling the truth, why would she put her head about the parapet again and put herself through all this public scrutiny?
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“She is pretty adamant this man was with Sophie and outside the shop while she was inside. She has identified him and hopefully it will help the gardai with their enquiries.”
Ian Bailey, 64, has always maintained his innocence.
The eccentric Englishman and former journalist has denied ever knowing Sophie or having a secret sexual relationship with her.
He has always argued his belief that someone from France killed her.
Last night he told the Irish Mirror: “ I don’t really know a whole lot about this new evidence but I would hope that eventually it will help vindicate me and clear my name.
“I have been living with this terrible burden of being accused in the wrong for a very long time.
“I welcome the fact that the Garda Commissioner Drew Harris is considering a review of the case and I, my lawyers, and my ex-partner will all fully cooperate with whatever the Gardai need.”
Bailey was sentenced to 25 years jail in absentia after being found guilty of Sophie’s murder by a French court.
Successive Irish courts don’t recognise the French verdict and have refused to extradite him to serve his sentence.