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Sophie Toscan du Plantier’s son unable to attend memorial concert tonight as he is ‘re-traumatised’ by renewed focus on mother’s murder

Senan Maloney – 9h ago

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The son of murder victim Sophie Toscan du Plantier cannot attend tonight’s major concert in her memory because he has been re-traumatised by a surge of international interest in the case.

Pierre-Louis Baudey-Vignaud has turned 39 this year – the same age as his mother when she was murdered outside her holiday home in Toormore, West Cork, in December 1996. Her only child, he was aged only 14 at the time.

A successful businessman in Paris, who still maintains the house where the murder took place and visits with his own family, Mr Baudey-Vignaud has suffered bouts of depression over the case in recent times, his grand-uncle said today.

Jean-Pierre Gazeau said: “He is of course very pleased at this concert taking place in Schull in his mother’s memory and we as a family have a very strong willingness to participate. But he was too much exposed for the last two or three years. He gave a lot of interviews on the case in those moments, when there were big TV documentaries and new interest around the world.

“He was depressed for a while outside those events, because he was brought back into what happened. He cannot overexpose himself emotionally too often.”

Mr Baudey-Vignaud appeared on The Late Late Show in September 2021 and made a heartfelt appeal for people to come forward in the case – subsequently receiving a lot of correspondence from Ireland.

Mr Gazeau said the constant waiting for positive developments in the unsolved case was a strain in itself.

“We have a conviction in France, but here in Ireland where it happened we still don’t have the truth or the justice, because the killer is still free. We don’t know exactly what happened,” he said.

“We need to know what happened. I think it’s extremely important for the family and for all people, the Irish public, to know the truth.

“What was the motivation behind this terrible crime? What were the reasons? So it’s very important for us that there is a special team of the police now resuming their investigations, and possibly bringing the case to the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) in Ireland.

“And of course, we hope that this time the DPP will consider positively the work made by the Garda.

“We know there are people out there who can help bring the murderer to justice, even after all this time. We know it, so please do it.”

Meanwhile, Ian Bailey will not attend the special memorial concert in the Habour Hotel in Schull, Co Cork, tonight.

No ticket has been made available and there has been no approach from the man who has admitted he was the chief suspect for the notorious 1996 crime, which the Taoiseach has branded “a stain on Irish society”.

In any case, Mr Bailey, who did not respond to attempted contacts yesterday, is barred from the hotel where the concert will take place tonight, arising from a separate nuisance said to have been caused on the premises, which Independent.ie has seen referenced in emails.

Mr Bailey (65) has been convicted of the murder in France, but has long protested his innocence, with his solicitor branding those proceedings a farce. Extradition has been refused by the Irish courts. Mr Bailey, who styles himself as a journalist and poet, now plans a three-part podcast to highlight his history and position on the case.

Ms du Plantier’s uncle, Mr Gazeau, flew into Ireland yesterday to represent the family at the ’Remember Me’ concert, which has been organised on a not-for-profit basis by local people to show solidarity in their continued suffering.

Mr Gazeau brought special messages from Ms du Plantier’s parents, Georges Buoniol (96) and his wife Marguerite (91), in which they thanked the community for its support as a full Garda re-investigation takes place.

Marguerite tells the sellout attendance: “We cannot be with you, but we are with you with the whole of our hearts.”

Her husband Georges, a former dentist, has sent a single sentence: “Sophie very much wanted to be Irish.”

Her body was found outside her holiday home at Toormore, West Cork, on the morning of Monday, December 23, 1996. It was clad in a nightdress and boots and had suffered multiple blows to the skull from a rock and a heavy concrete cavity block.

“We believe Sophie knew her killer, because she opened the door – even if she was probably carrying a little red hatchet for her own protection,” Mr Gazeau told Independent.ie. “She may have used it, because it has been missing since that night. It could have been the blow in self-defence that maddened her killer and caused him to kill her in a rage.”

He added: “We are still receiving messages and reports all the time from Ireland, with people getting in touch. Most often it is just to sympathise. For instance, this summer we received wristbands with Sophie’s name that someone had made for the family.

“People are telling us they know who did it, and one name comes up all the time. The family has to leave it to the Garda, and we pass on anything that might be of help to them. They are in occasional touch with us to inform us of progress. We are optimistic and hope that the new investigation will bring results.”

The concert will feature harpists, cellists, violinists and other instrumentalists, along with tenor and soprano arias. A mixture of classical, operatic and modern music loved by Ms du Plantier, it will be interspersed with poems, including by her favourite, William Butler Yeats. 

A book was found at her bedside after her killing, open at the Yeats poem A Dream of Death. Mr Gazeau will address the gathering, which will include senior members of the Garda re-investigation team.

A programme for the event features a diary entry by Sophie: “I really love this country… I feel at ease here. I would love to find a house and to stay there for a time.” The 17 listed performances will conclude with a rendition of the Edith Piaf classic: La Vie en Rose.

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