Who is Ian Bailey and why is he a suspect?

After 25 years, Ian Bailey remains the prime suspect in the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier.

In 1996, Sophie was found beaten on the moor of her holiday home in Ireland while the French and Irish police were desperate for answers.

Bailey is now being tried in France, but not Ireland, and the investigation is underway.

He maintains his innocence to this day.

So why is he a suspect and why did the two investigations end with different results?

Here is everything you need to know …


Sophie’s son is still seeking justice for her death (Credit: Netflix)

How did Sophie Toscan du Plantier die?

On December 23, 1996, du Plantier’s body was found on a path in Schull, County Cork.

She was later found to have been beaten to death with a cinder block before being left on the side of the road.

Her home was not disturbed in any way, although her keys were still in the back of the door and she did not suffer any sexual assault before she died.

The door is believed to have closed behind her when she went outside to investigate a noise.

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Why is Ian Bailey a suspect?

Ian Bailey is a journalist who lives northeast of Sophie’s former home.

As one of the first on the scene, he became the most important “stranger” for newspapers.

But he came under suspicion after a report revealed intimate details of the case, from the lack of sexual assault to two wine glasses on her sideboard.

Bailey also deduced that the married du Plantier had “male companions” visiting her home.

Ian Bailey
Bailey still maintains his innocence to this day (Credit: Netflix)

Locals say Bailey generally acted “strangely” and the Gardai (Irish police) found scratches on his face and arms.

His alibi that he was in bed with his partner collapsed when he changed his story to get up in the middle of the night and walk down the street to his office building.

Marie Farrell called the Gardai anonymously, claiming she had found a man on a bridge near du Plantier.

She identified Bailey under oath in 2003, claiming Bailey tried to intimidate her in her business.

Ian Bailey
Bailey is a journalist and at the time worked as a local “stringer” for newspapers (source: Netflix)

By 2015, she withdrew her testimony in a separate court hearing, saying it was a different person.

Two confessions later surfaced, including a 14-year-old boy and a couple who said Bailey told them he had “gone too far.”

Bailey’s history of violence against women, including one arrest, has also been unearthed.

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However, there is no evidence that Bailey ever had direct contact with du Plantier.

He claims the scratches were from felling a Christmas tree and turkeys he killed while working in a slaughterhouse.

The gardai did not photograph the injuries, but used rough sketches.

What is the current verdict?

In 2019, French courts sentenced Bailey “in absentia” after a four-day trial – meaning he wasn’t there when the trial took place.

He was sentenced to 25 years in prison and the country has made several attempts to extradite him.

However, Ireland’s High Court ruled against it and he remains in Ireland to this day.

Ireland never condemned him because, despite some circumstantial evidence, there was no unequivocal evidence.

Sophie: A murder in West Cork
Sophie’s killer was never caught (Source: Netflix)

Bailey continues to plead his innocence, believing that you ordered Plantier’s husband to be killed.

His claims are based on her life insurance policy and his refusal to travel to Ireland to identify her body.

But Daniel Toscan du Plantier has a cast-iron alibi for the anniversary of her death.

Sophie’s family, including their son Pierre, believe Bailey to be the killer.

There were never more suspects to speak of.

Sophie: A Murder in West Cork hits Netflix on June 30th.

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