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Son of Sophie Toscan du Plantier appeals to locals of West Cork to attend trial in France

Pierre-Louis Baudey Vignaud said that it was imperative that the relevant parties travel to France.

Sophie Toscan du Plantier.
Sophie Toscan du Plantier.
Image: Courant via YouTube

THE SON OF murdered French woman Sophie Toscan Du Plantier has urged locals in West Cork to travel to Paris to testify at the trial of English journalist Ian Bailey.

Speaking in Goleen, in West Cork, Pierre-Louis Baudey Vignaud said that it was imperative that the relevant parties travel to France for the four-day trial which starts  on 27 May.

“I want to make an appeal to all the people here – anyone who has received requests from the magistrates in France, come and tell (your story). We must be all together against violence,” Baudey Vignaud said. 

He travelled to Goleen with his uncle Betrand in order to attend a mass in memory of his mother.

He told mass goers that his idyllic childhood had been blighted by the violent killing of his mother in West Cork in 1996.

Baudey Vignaud said that Sophie was a real flesh and blood person whose life ended in a horrifying manner. He spoke of his pride at her ‘resilience’ in her final moments.

“My mother, Sophie is not a ghost, she is the victim of human cruelty and violence which has no place here.

Sophie fought like a lioness against the most atrocious violence there is. The violence used by a monster that nothing stops – the one that struck her for no reason, for nothing.

“I still come back here every year because it is the only way for me to defy this violence and to destroy it.”

He stated that his life became a ‘prison’ overnight after his mother’s death and that it was impossible for him to come to terms with what had happened to her.

“I have been coming to Ireland for 30 years. I was eight years old the first time I came here and I was 15 years old when my mother was brutally killed. I can’t bear the thought of her blood seeping into your soil,” he said. 

Romantic image

He told mass goers that he was drawn to the poetic and romantic image of Ireland, “the real reasons that attracted her (Sophie) here to West Cork”.

He claimed that the killing of his mother was not in keeping with the soul of Ireland.

“This is a trial of a crime that does not fit with what Ireland is like and does not fit with what you, Irish people, are,” he said.

“This is a trial of a crime that no one, especially myself but also you, would have wanted to know about. This is a trial of a crime that you and I did not deserve, whether it takes place here or in France.”

He stated that his mother felt at ease in Ireland.

He said that Sophie travelled to Ireland for “peace of mind, serenity and trust” and never would have thought that she was at risk in her “haven of peace”.

The church heard that the murder of the French film producer was the “darkest page” in the history of Sophie’s family and a sad page in Irish history.

Baudey Vignaud said that he decided to keep his mother’s home in Toormore near Schull because he preferred to “believe in the trust that my mother had when she opened her door. ”

Massgoers at the Church of Our Lady, Star of the Sea and St Patrick were told that this land must end a crime which is “neither a mystery nor a legend”.

Baudey Vignaud attended the mass with his uncle Bertrand. The family have travelled to West Cork on numerous occasions over the years.

Trial

Meanwhile, Ian Bailey who is due to be tried in Paris for the murder of Sophie Toscan Du Plantier has said previously that he expects to be found guilty of the offence.

In an interview with Virgin Media News earlier this year Bailey, who vehemently denies any involvement in the murder of the 39-year-old in says he has no plans to travel for France

“I am greatly, greatly imperiled here. I know I had that I nothing to do with this and I am going to finish up a convicted murderer. I am actually an innocent man. What will happen in France is that they will probably celebrate the fact that I have been convicted. All they’ll have succeeded in doing is convicting an innocent man,” he said. 

I am looking at a date in May when the tectonic plates in my life are going to shift hugely. And I don’t know how I am going to handle it.

Mr Bailey (62), who lives in Schull Co Cork, says that he is heading in to a very difficult period in his life.

“I am facing in to a very grim dark period of my life. And yet at the same time I know there are people here in Ireland and in Bantry who know that I have nothing to do with this,” he said. 

Short of a miracle or an intervention some new information coming out, it would appear inevitable that at a point later this I will become a convicted murderer in France.

Solicitor for Ian Bailey, Frank Buttimer, said that his client has always extended his deepest sympathy to the family of the late Sophie Toscan Du Plantier on their loss.

“He has an understanding of the trauma and suffering which they have experienced and he continues to express his sympathy to them,” he said. 

“He maintains as he has always done, he had nothing to do with the unlawful killing.

Buttimer believes that the Irish Government and Department of Justice have facilitated the trial in France by their “proactive assistance”.

“I have repeatedly asked them to discontinue this assistance pointing out that the that French case is based on highly questionable and suspect evidence that our DPP has decided does not merit prosecution in Ireland,” he said. 

“What the Department is doing is grossly unfair to my client and is completely disregarding the decision of our lawmakers. This whole affair is extremely stressful and damaging to Mr Bailey and it is interfering greatly with his life.

In my view what is happening is grotesque and his fear is that he will be convicted of murder in another country based on non-existent evidence.

Buttimer previously said the criminal trial is just a “show piece trial” to satisfy certain interests in France.

No one has ever been charged in Ireland in relation to the murder of du Plantier. 

Bailey has fought two attempts by the authorities in France to extradite him to the country. He unsuccessfully sued newspapers for allegedly defaming him and gardaí for allegedly trying to frame him.

He lodged a complaint with GSOC in early 2012 into his treatment by gardaí investigating the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier.

The GSOC report last year indicated grave issues of concern but said there was no evidence to suggest that Bailey was framed for the murder or that evidence was falsified, forged, or fabricated by members of An Garda Siochana.

Buttimer said last year that his client was disappointed with a watchdog’s report,

The report revealed that 22 exhibits in relation to the case can no longer be located.

These include a blood spattered gate taken from close to where the body of the French national was found, a wine bottle discovered in a field next to the scene of the crime and a black overcoat belonging to Bailey.

Toscan Du Plantier was murdered at her holiday home at Toormore near Schull in west Cork in the early hours of 23 December, 1996. Her battered body was found in a laneway near her cottage.

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About the author:

Olivia Kelleher

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