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Heartbroken husband of murdered Sophie Toscan du Plantier gave statement to police about last words with wife
His description of a beautiful, fearless woman tally with the profile of Sophie set to be established by French prosecutors
- 18:05, 25 May 2019
IN the weeks following the murder, Sophie’s heartbroken husband Daniel Toscan du Plantier gave a statement to police about his last words with his wife.
His description of a beautiful, fearless woman tally with the profile of Sophie set to be established by French prosecutors.
The wealthy film producer would go on to remarry Melita Nikolic, his fourth wife, two years after the murder and the couple had two children.
However, he remained fixated by Sophie’s death, declaring: “You say to yourself, ‘somewhere on Earth is the person who did it’, that ‘there is a devil somewhere in the hills of southern Ireland’.”
Statement of Mr Daniel Toscan du Plantier, 55 years, producer, made to Jean Louis Chaumet, Police Commandant
“I am the husband of Sophie Bouniol, who died on 23.12.1996, in the Schull area of Ireland.
“She was my associate, but from 1988, she left her work and our relationship became more intimate, we began to share a life and some years later, I married her.
“Sophie was very dynamic. She was a young impulsive woman, sometimes to the point of being aggressive and would not be in the habit of letting herself be walked on.
“In effect she was more than a tough character, with a strict moral code, who feared nothing.
“She rather avoided the world of society and gossip and preferred the chic and popular quarters where she felt more at ease. She was passionate about African art and had produced a programme on African bondage, which was transmitted at the beginning of December 1996.
“I have to say, that like all couples, disputes arose, because Sophie was not an easy person to live with. In those moments she would not hesitate to leave our home and go to her close confidante, her cousin Alexandra, who lives in Geneva.
“She was equally very close to Agnes Thomas, who was indeed a confidante. If our life as a couple was sometimes not without hitches, she still decided to have a child and had ceased to use any form of contraceptive.
“She expressed the desire about four years ago, to purchase a house in Ireland, in a wild and isolated area, in keeping with her character.
“I therefore bought, at her request and in her name, for I think 400,000 French Francs (about €61,000), a house situated in the immediate proximity to Fastnet Lighthouse.
LOVED LONG WALKS IN THE IRISH COUNTRYSIDE
“Personally, I only went there once, about three or four years ago and I was able to appreciate the beauty of the place.
“Sophie has told me how she loved long walks in the Irish countryside, with her books, it was her favourite pastime when she holidayed there.
“She used to go there three or four times a year, to holiday for a week with friends, relatives or children.
“She was the mother of a boy from a previous marriage, Pierre Baudey, aged about 15 years. During her absences, the house was maintained by a woman from the village who was called Josie.
“Because of her professional life, Sophie had only been able to go to her Irish house once, in the spring, much to her regret. She had therefore, decided to holiday there at the end of December, during a slack period in her work.
“However, beginning on 25th December, she had to return to France, to accompany me to Dakar, to visit friends.
“She left Paris on Wednesday, 20th December, about 9.30am, for Dublin or Cork, I am not exactly sure. I did not accompany her to the airport.
“During her holidays in Ireland, she would call me every day and often very late in the evening. She did not detract from that habit and called me every day and even several times a day, without ever, for one moment, intimating any problem.
“On Sunday 22nd December, I was in my second home in Ambax, in Haute-Garonne, and between 11.30pm and midnight, French time, I had a call from Sophie.
“I was however in a work meeting with my associates in Unifrance and I indicated to Sophie that I would call her, which I did about 12 minutes later.
LAST TELEPHONE CONVERSATION
“When I made contact, I immediately noticed in her voice, that she was on the point of falling asleep and that she was in bed.
“I think that during the conversation, she told me that.
“The conversation lasted a few minutes and dealt with trivialities and on the visit she had made during the day to Mr and Mrs Ungerer, who live a few kilometres from her house.
“She got to know Mr Ungerer last April and had been won over by his personality and his talents as a cartoonist. I think that he is the author of cartoons for children, but with a style more suited to adults.
“According to what she told me, she had returned home about 9.30pm, I suppose the Ungerers had kept her for dinner. If not, she would have gone to a pub for a sandwich or would have had a piece of cheese and a glass of red wine.
“Clearly, she was very happy with this visit and had been very ‘taken’ by Mr Ungerer, to such an extent that they formed a work project together.
“I am saying that in a telephone call that I received on the morning, my wife had told me she had finally intended to return to France on 24th December and that she had been able to get a seat on a flight arriving in Toulouse at 8.00pm, though she had initially anticipated returning on 25th December.
“There was no particular reason for this change of plan and it was agreed that I would meet her at Toulouse-Blagnac, on the arrival of the Aer Lingus flight.
“During the last telephone conversation Sophie did not make any reference to any particular plan.
“I felt she was already in her bed and was tired. I say that to my knowledge, she did not take sleeping pills. In her Irish house, Sophie would sleep wearing a night dress, T-shirt, pyjamas or other such. I know that she had communication with the occupants of two other houses.
“There was no history with the English people who lived there. In the case of an altercation, Sophie had such a temperament that she could fly into a rage and was not the type to offer no resistance.
“Equally, and in the same vein, I’m saying, that because of her character, my wife would not hide from any noise outside, but would rather go out to investigate. I had been able to verify that several times.
“She used to frequent the local pub, whose ambience was agreeable to her, as in Paris, where she used to frequent the popular cafés.
“I learned on Monday 23 December, from a news bulletin on television, that the body of my wife was found close to the house. A few hours later I was informed by the Irish authorities.
ACT OF VIOLENCE
“I have absolutely no idea as to the perpetrator of the crime and do not see any possible motive for such an act, other than it being an act of violence.
“At no moment did she speak of receiving or inviting anybody after my telephone call.
“I do not at the minute wish to say anything more.
“I do not have it in mind to return to Ireland. I am ready to receive here in Paris, police officers dealing with the case, if they deem it necessary.”
After personally having read this statement, Mr Toscan du Plantier agrees and signs it in my presence and the presence of my assistant at 12.30pm.
SIGNED: Daniel Toscan du Plantier.
WITNESS: Jean Louis Chaumet, Police Commandant.
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