The Englisman man, Bailey, is Back, where he Loves, on the Papers again, his own Podcast, What a Trooper? Bailey a top Lawyer, Poet, Journalist, Storyteller, no End to his Ego, Sorry Talent.

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When Sinéad O’Connor met Ian Bailey — ‘No one thinks I killed her ...

Ian Bailey hits out at ‘dirty, rotten, stinking lie’ over link to Sophie killing in west Cork

• 7h ago

FREELANCE journalist Ian Bailey (65) insisted he has been wrongly connected with the death of French film producer Sophie Toscan du Plantier (39) for almost 27 years because of “a dirty, rotten, stinking lie and a false narrative”.

Mr Bailey launched his own podcast series, Ian Bailey – In His Own Words, as he said he wants to set out the true events of December 1996 which changed the entire course of his life and appallingly linked him to “a terrible, terrible crime which is as yet unsolved”.

The Manchester-born poet was twice arrested by gardaí for questioning in relation to the death of Ms du Plantier in 1997 and 1998. He was released without charge on both occasions.

The French mother-of-one was found brutally beaten to death on a laneway leading to her isolated holiday home at Toormore outside Schull in west Cork on December 23, 1996.

She had apparently tried to flee from an intruder at her home but was caught and fatally assaulted when her clothing snagged on barbed wire.

Mr Bailey has always protested his innocence in relation to the crime.

After the failure to charge anyone in relation to the killing in Ireland, the French authorities launched their own eight-year investigation.

In May 2019, Mr Bailey was tried in absentia before a Paris criminal court and was convicted of Ms du Plantier’s murder. A French magistrate imposed a 25-year prison sentence.

Over the past 13 years, the French have attempted to extradite Mr Bailey on three separate occasions – with the extradition bids rejected by the Irish courts on each occasion.

“The entire subject of this podcast is one of false allegations,” Mr Bailey said.

He explained that he decided to launch his own podcast after seeing how some had twisted his words over the years.

Mr Bailey said he wanted to explain to listeners at first hand the events of December 1996 and since.

The unsolved murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier has now been the focus of six books, a Sky TV special by acclaimed director Jim Sheridan, a Netflix series and numerous TV documentaries.

“Creatively, this was the most difficult thing I have ever done – and I include a law degree in that,” Mr Bailey said.

Mr Bailey now has his first podcast online – and has two further podcasts recorded and ready to be published.

“The original intention was that this would be a duologue – someone would be asking me pointed, hard questions and I would be answering.

“But it ended up being done as a monologue. I had to script, record, direct and produce it myself.

“I see this as very much a long-term project and I also hope to have my poetry feature in future podcasts.”

His first podcast deals with events from his birth in 1957 in Manchester right up to December 1996 when Ms du Plantier was killed.

Mr Bailey had moved to Ireland in 1990/91 after growing disenchanted with his career as a freelance journalist in Gloucester and Cheltenham.

“I was keen and hard-working and would often work over 70 hours a week, I did well. With the benefit of hindsight I could see that I was over-stretching myself both professionally and socially.”

His decision to locate to Ireland came after a holiday here with a friend in 1986 – and then the impact on him of a growing circle of Irish friends in the UK.

“Almost exclusively my friends and the people I got on best with were Irish. Back in the UK I was increasingly jaundiced towards the newspaper industry.”

After moving to Ireland, he lived in Cork, Wicklow and Waterford before settling in west Cork.

“I was like an itinerant worker…yet all the time writing and working on my poetry.”

Mr Bailey – who revealed that one of his heroes is General Michael Collins – said “all was harmony” in his life in 1992/93 thanks to a relationship with Welsh artist Jules Thomas and his love of art and music in west Cork.

This was despite domestic violence incidents against Ms Thomas which Mr Bailey said he was “deeply ashamed of”.

On December 22, 1996, to prepare for the festive season, he cut a Christmas Tree and killed a turkey before attending a music event with Ms Thomas.

Later, they returned to her home at The Prairie in Liscaha and he stayed up overnight at the kitchen table working on a piece for the Sunday Tribune.

Around lunchtime on December 23, just as the family prepared to go to Skibbereen to do Christmas shopping, he said he received a phone call about reports a woman had been killed in west Cork.

“Around 1.40pm (December 23) Fenella – Jules’ youngest daughter – came into the kitchen and said the Cork Examiner regional reporter, Eddie Cassidy, was on the phone asking for me.

“Mr Cassidy initially asked me how far away was the townland of Toormore. I told him it was relatively close – about three or four miles away.

“He then told me about an incident and the discovery of a woman’s body. He gave me directions and I am sure he said the victim was French.

“Little did I know, that phone call and my response to it was going to totally change the course of my life.”

Mr Bailey said he knew of a French holiday home in Toormore having worked on a nearby property and decided to go there with his partner, Ms Thomas.

He met a local woman, Shirley Foster, and then spotted gardaí on a remote laneway.

Mr Bailey said he went to the area (where Sophie’s body had been found) but gardaí would not comment to him and advised him to contact the Garda Press Office.

“There was nothing going to be said at the scene. So I drove to the local post office…and I was told the victim’s name was Sophie Bouniol.”

Mr Bailey later assisted a Reuters photographer to find the scene.

“There I met the local superintendent, JP Twomey. At that point, a tape had been put up to stop people going too close to the scene.”

Mr Bailey said he attended a Christmas Day swim and the killing was “the only topic of conversation”.

“Rumours were beginning to fly like a flock of crows. What I did not know was that the rumours were based on a lie which was being deliberately circulated about myself and that I had been responsible for the crime.”

Mr Bailey said he later voluntarily gave hair samples to the gardaí as he knew he had nothing to hide.

“I had no principled objection and certainly no fear from giving the sample. Over the early weeks of January 1997 and into February I became the lead journalist on the story.”

He said he regretted making one joke, in black humour, to a Dublin news editor who raised queries about Mr Bailey’s rumoured links to the case.

“I mistakenly and rather jokingly said: ‘Oh yes, it was me – I needed the story.’ What I didn’t know was that (the news editor) had an irony bypass and didn’t get it at all.

“This was subsequently referred to as an informal admission – (that is) complete nonsense.

“The suggestion that I had anything to do with it was ridiculous and I made light of it by way of dark humour. It was a mistake and I regret it.”

Mr Bailey later said a senior garda called to see him and asked if he played poker.

“Before he left he told me he was going to place me near to the scene of the crime in the early hours of December 23. I told him that was ridiculous and he said that we will see.

“At that point I had no inkling or knowledge of the events ahead of me…I most shockingly went from being the lead journalist to what police would subsequently describe as the prime suspect.”

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