Thursday, November 11, 2010 UP DATED BY FRED BASSETT
Sophie Toscan de Plantier – murdered 1996
DANIEL Toscan du Plantier told the French newspaper Le Figaro that there is a devil somewhere in the hills of southern Ireland. He was describing the murderer of his wife, 39-year-old Sophie, whose body was found outside her home in a remote laneway in Dunmanus West outside Schull on December 23, 1996.
On Friday, December 20, 1996, Sophie Toscan de Plantier arrived at Cork Airport and drove to her home in Schull, which the couple had bought three years before. Over that weekend, she sought out her favourite haunts and visited friends. Then she decided to return to Paris on Christmas Eve. That Sunday, she phoned her husband at 11.00pm and told him of her planned return the next day. But at 10 o’clock the next morning, a neighbour discovered Sophie’s body in the laneway leading to her home. She was wearing a nightshirt, leggings and brown lace-up boots. She had been bludgeoned more that a dozen times with a blunt instrument. Then a large stone or concrete block had been dropped on her head, smashing her skull. Four years later, no one has been charged with the Frenchwoman’s murder.
Garda inquiries have focused on a prime suspect, but the absence of conclusive forensic evidence has dogged the investigation. Almost Fourteen years later, no one has been charged with the Frenchwoman’s murder. Garda inquiries have focused on a prime suspect.
Gardaí believe that Sophie Toscan du Plantier was running away from her attacker when she was brutally murdered. It is believed that on the evening or in the night of the 22 December Sophie was disturbed or surprised at her home by her killer. One thing is for certain, she suffered a brutal and cowardly killing.
While the tabloids poured out Ian Bailey’s insightful and exclusive reporting on the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, the Gardaí were starting to find Ian Bailey’s name appearing on their investigative radar. Ian Bailey lived in the area where Sophie had lived and where she was so brutally murdered. However, the Gardai had more information than this to identify Ian Bailey as a suspect. This information or ‘evidence’ was not enough to bring charges against Ian Bailey, but it was enough to have him arrested twice within a fourteen month period and subsequently released due to lack of evidence.
Later in 2003 Ian Bailey would bring civil actions against some newspapers for suggesting that he was in fact the murderer of Sophie Toscan du Plantier. Some of these newspapers paid damages to Ian Bailey, others were cleared of any wrong doing. During the civil actions Bailey was painted as a very unpleasant person.
A FRENCH magistrate appointed to investigate the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier is to brief French forensic scientists shortly before they travel to Ireland to examine evidence and exhibits collected in the case by Gardaí. The team is due here in the next few months. Judge Patrick Gachon plans to brief a team of police forensic scientists from the Institut de Recherche Criminelle de la Gendarmerie National as to the items and exhibits which he hopes they will examine when they come.
Last September, Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern confirmed that permission had been granted to Judge Gachon to send a forensic team to Ireland to examine the evidence gathered by Gardaí investigating the murder of French film producer Toscan du Plantier, in the course of an extensive investigation, Gardaí gathered more than 200 exhibits, though these were not included when Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy sanctioned the handing over of the file on the murder to France in 2008.
In addition to copies of diaries and notebooks seized from English journalist Ian Bailey when he was arrested for questioning about the killing, the exhibits include blood samples, nail scrapings and hair samples taken from Toscan du Plantier’s body. The blood samples have all been tested three times to date as technology has improved, but on each occasion results have shown the blood to be that of Toscan du Plantier.
In a French court, Ian Bailey was tried in absence and without defense and was convicted in a French court for the murder, he was sentenced to 25yrs.
The High Court in Ireland ultimately refused the French request to extradite Ian Bailey.
The recently released documentaries by Netflix and Sky, investigating the details surrounding this murder, only further highlights how gruesome and tragic this murder was. The killer remains free, their identity not proven, although there is still a suspicion that the killer is indeed, known.
Please feel free to comment and debate.I will update more in the near future….
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Nothing in Raonaid Murray’s life signalled the shadow of a killer. At 17, she was a normal, independent-minded teenager anchored by a close, loving family in the settled suburb of Glenageary in south county Dublin.Raonaid Murray is a murder victim, stabbed to death at the age of 17 in the early hours of Saturday morning, 4 September 1999. As of September 2009, ten years after the murder, this case remains unsolved. The murder weapon has not been located either. Raonaid spent the evening of 3 September socialising in Scotts pub on Georges Street, Dun Laoghaire, a place she knew well. She had just finished her shift in the boutique at 9:00pm. It was to be the place where she was last seen alive. She left at approximately 11.20pm, planning to meet friends again later, and started the 15-minute walk home. It is believed that she argued with a man described as being in his mid 20s an estimated 25 minutes after leaving the pub in the laneway between Silchester Road and her home in Silchester Park. Witnesses heard a female voice expressing a cry of “leave me alone”, “go away” or something similar. “Fuck off” was also heard. This was followed by a scream. Raonaid was stabbed four times in the side, chest and shoulder with a one-and-a-half-inch sharp knife while in Silchester Crescent. Her murderer escaped and Raonaid staggered 200 feet before she collapsed and died from her injuries. Her body was found by her sister Sarah 50 yards from her home, at 12:20am on the morning of Saturday 4 September. Raonaid was not sexually assaulted nor were her possessions stolen. An investigation was launched; however, a motive has never been found.More than 100 Gardaí were assigned to the case at its peak. By 2008, more than 8,000 people were interviewed and almost 3,000 statements taken. There were 12 arrests. The knife used to murder Raonaid has never been found. A forensic profile of the killer suggested that it would be a young man, in his mid- to late twenties, single, living either alone or with his mother. He would have been a loner, possibly with a drug problem, and may have been in pyschiatric care at some point. He would also have had a history of anti-social behaviour and would be unlikely to have had any intimate relationships. The profile indicated a likelihood he would kill again. There have been a number of suspects for the murder since it took place:
- The earliest suspect was a man in his mid-twenties, five foot ten in height, with sandy coloured Oasis style hair like that of Noel Gallagher who was wearing light coloured combat trousers and a beige top seen arguing with her less than an hour before she was killed.
- A taxi-driver reported picking up a young man with blood on his trousers in the early hours of that Saturday morning and taking him to Granville Road at the top of Newtownpark Avenue, Blackrock. He dropped the man at a house there and felt he didn’t see him go inside. House-to-house inquiries carried out at the time didn’t find anyone fitting the description living on the road. Later in the investigation, a suspect was found to have been living at the time on the other side of Newtownpark Avenue. He was arrested and questioned, but there was no evidence.
- A cook was arrested and questioned but later released without charge.
- A young man seen dancing with Raonaid at a nightclub and then “hassling” her in an fast food restaurant on 29 July 1999.
- A unit of experienced Gardaí called The Garda Serious Crime Review Team under detective superintendent Christy Mangan began a review of the case in July 2008. They identified a number of mistakes and oversights in the original investigation. It recommended renewed searches for the murder weapon and found areas of failings:
- It determined that some potential witnesses who came forward with information at the time were followed up on incorrectly.
- There was tension between Garda units during the original investigation which meant that communication was not as effective as it could have been.
- It was not the work of a random killer, that Raonaid knew her killer as there was no record of a similar attack happening before or after this particular crime anywhere in the Dublin region.
- The nature of the attack would suggest that whoever killed the victim held some sort of personal grudge. Raonaid was killed by a female. The woman may have been known to Raonaid and she was killed after a personal disagreement caused the schoolgirl to break off contact with her. They identified a woman in her 30s who had a reputation for violence against women. She left the country a year after the murder and still lives abroad.
- On Friday, September 3, Raonaid worked a late shift at the Sally West boutique in Dun Laoghaire Shopping Centre where she held a summer job as a junior sales assistant. Just after nine that evening, she crossed the road to go to Scott’s pub with a colleague. Both girls sat at one of two tables in the stained-glass bay window facing onto Dun Laoghaire’s busy main street.
Scott’s was a familiar place to her, where she moved easily among her peers. It was a crossroads for the traffic of Dun Laoghaire’s youth, out to party on a Friday night. Raonaid knew Dun Laoghaire like the back of her hand; all its nooks and crannies, the Gaps, the winding walkways known as the Metals, and all the places in between. Her life had been rooted there from childhood. It was a place where she felt safe and where she belonged, a place where she had no reason to be afraid.
That evening, Raonaid made two calls on her friend’s mobile phone as she finalised her plans for the evening. Originally, she was supposed to be babysitting for the evening but this was cancelled. Then, at 11.20pm, she moved out into the main street and said goodbye to her friend. Raonaid was on her way home to change and pick up some money before meeting other friends at midnight at Paparazzi’s nightclub on Marine Road in Dun Laoghaire. It was just a 15-minute walk to her home. In the warm night air, she was a distinctive figure, a tall young 17-year-old with strawberry blonde hair carrying a big Sally West bag and a black and gold coat slung over her left arm.
At 11.53pm, Raonaid was seen at the top of nearby Corrig Avenue and Corrig Road by a woman motorist. The witness noticed a young man in the teenager’s company. Her attention was drawn to the couple because the young man seemed to be “hassling” the girl. In her statement to gardaí, the witness said that she got the impression that the girl was trying to walk away from the young man. She also got the impression that Raonaid knew the man.
He is described as 5’10” and between 22 and 25 years old. He was good-looking, slim and of athletic build. He had sandy-coloured hair, which the witness described as messy-looking and tossed, cut in a style resembling that of Oasis member Noel Gallagher. He wore beige combat trousers and a beige or brown sweatshirt or jumper.
Minutes later, the teenager was seen walking alone. At 12.02am, another witness saw her as she made her way along Lower Glenageary Road. Eight minutes later, the voice of a woman was heard telling someone to “F*ck off”.
Raonaid Murray was stabbed four times by a six-inch kitchen knife in the tree-lined walkway between Silchester Road and Silchester Crescent, known locally as the Gaps. The ferocity of the attack stunned even the most senior investigators. The assailant plunged the knife downward into the young girl’s chest. Raonaid Murray raised her left arm to defend herself and the attacker rammed the knife through the Sally West shopping bag and into her arm. He then plunged the knife into her left side twice.
Somehow the dying teenager made her way along the remaining one hundred yards out into Silchester Crescent where she died alone on the grass verge. At 12.40am, she was found by her elder sister, Sarah, as she escorted a friend to the walkway from Silchester Park.
While gardaí have turned Dun Laoghaire and its hinterland upside down in search of Raonaid Murray’s killer in an exhaustive and protracted inquiry, they have so far failed to identify the man seen with Raonaid in the minutes before she was killed. They have also been unable to identify another young man who joined Raonaid and her friends some weeks before at the Abrakebabra restaurant in Dun Laoghaire. Some officers now believe that the unidentified man seen “hassling” Raonaid Murray is her killer.
A £20,000 plus reward is available for information leading to the conviction of Raonaid Murray’s killer. Anyone with information is asked to contact Dun Laoghaire Garda Station at 01 2801285 or the freephone Garda Confidential Line 1800 666 111
Annie McCarrick, Jo-Jo Dollard and Deirdre Jacob
THE terrified rape victim of beast of the mountains’ Larry Murphy has been told by the Government: “We can’t keep him behind bars.”She had a miracle escape after Murphy abducted her from a midlands town, raped her repeatedly in the Wicklow mountains, then tried to strangle and smother her in the boot of his car. The attack raised fears that Murphy could be linked to several of Ireland’s other unsolved missing women cases.
Larry Murphy has been circumstantially linked to the case of the 18-year-old missing Newbridge student teacher Deirdre Jacob who disappeared in July 1998.
He lived in Castledermot, Co Kildare in November 1998 when 21-year old Jo Jo Dullard disappeared. The detectives attached to Operation Trace, set up to establish if a serial killer was at work in the Dublin Wicklow mountains, also investigated whether
Murphy had been working as a sub contractor in Johnny Foxes pub in Glencullen, Co Wicklow when American student Annie McCarrick went missing in 1993.
Another unreported assault involved a close relative of his wife’s: “Murphy offered to give her a lift home and then made a pass at her instead,” our source said. “When she told him she wasn’t interested he put his hands around her neck and tried to strangle her in the passenger seat of his car. She managed to escape but it didn’t go any further because he was her brother-in- law.”
CARPENTER Larry Murphy (43) was a married father-of-two when he set out to rape and murder a businesswoman in February 2000. Born in Baltinglass, Co Wicklow, he had never come to the attention of gardai before. He had a keen interest in hunting and used his knowledge of remote areas when carrying out the savage attack. Murphy stalked his prey for a month before kidnapping her in Carlow. He broke her nose and gagged her before bundling her into the boot of his Fiat Punto. He drove 13km to Beaconstown, where he had hunting rights, undressed her and raped her. Afterwards, he told her he was married and the names of his two young children and that he would bring her home but instead, he put his victim back in the boot and drove up the Wicklow Mountains where he raped her three more times. When she tried to escape, Murphy pulled a plastic bag over her head. He fled when he was disturbed by two fox hunters, and was quickly traced by gardai. When questioned later Murphy told Gardai that he had only raped his victim once – and claimed the second time they made love was at her request. He was sentenced to 14 years in prison in 2000. Murphy was later questioned about the disappearance of several other women in Leinster, but denied responsibility. THE arrival of suspected serial killer in Spain has sparked a wave of panic throughout the country. Women are being warned that “the face of evil” has moved there and plans to set up home in the south. According to reports, serial rapist Murphy fled Ireland in 2010 to relocate to the Mediterranean in an attempt to escape the media glare. Now Spanish police officers are planning to keep the violent rapist under surveillance. It is understood that gardai have provided the Spanish police with photos and background information about the suspected serial killer. The arrival of Ireland’s most high-profile sex offender in the Costa del Sol has sparked anxiety and panic among locals