true crime

Sophie was found murdered outside her holiday home. Now there's a new twist in the case.

On December 23, 1996, Sophie Toscan du Plantier was found dead on the driveway of her holiday home in rural Ireland.

The 39-year-old film producer, who was still wearing her pajamas, had been beaten to death. Her wounds were so severe that it was difficult for her neighbour, Shirley Foster, to identify her.

When police and a pathologist attended the scene, Sophie's death was ruled a homicide. It was believed the French woman's attacker had used a nearby concrete block to kill her.

Watch the trailer for Sophie: A Murder in West Cork below. Post continues below.

Video via Netflix.

For residents of the picturesque, remote town of West Cork, Sophie's death came as a complete shock. A murder hadn't occurred in the area for decades, and police virtually had no experience with dealing with such a crime.

In the beginning, there wasn't a clear suspect in the case.

Sophie's husband, Daniel Toscan du Plantier, was in France at the time of her murder, meaning he wasn't seen as a viable suspect. Likewise, Sophie had travelled to Ireland alone.


As the investigation continued, police began looking for people in West Cork with visible injuries. 

It was through this strategy that police were drawn to journalist Ian Bailey, who had visible scratches on his hands and forehead. Bailey, who had written a number of articles about the murder, claimed that he had been scratched while climbing a tree. 

But when questions arose over the reporter's claims, he was arrested for Sophie's murder.

Although Bailey denied any involvement with the crime in conversations with police, he told three people he had killed Sophie. 

The latest twist in the case is that Bailey died in late January this year. 

He was 66 and passed away from a suspected heart attack, leaving Sophie's loved ones devastated that justice may never be served.

Sophie Toscan du Plantier. Image: Netflix. For years, people in the town believed that Bailey had been the alleged culprit of the murder.


According to The Irish Times, one teenager, who received a lift from the journalist, told police that Bailey told him: "I went up there and smashed her brains in with a rock." 

Likewise, Bailey's colleague reported he told her: "It was me, I did it. I killed her. I did it to resurrect my career."

Another friend also reported that Bailey made a confession about going "too far".

There were several other factors that could potentially tie Bailey to the murder. According to one witness, Bailey had been spotted nearby Sophie's holiday home on the night of her murder. 

The reporter also had a history of violence, including previous incidents of domestic violence towards his partner, Jules Thomas, which had even resulted in her hospitalisation. 


Bailey was never charged in Ireland over Sophie's death. 

However, under French law, a trial for Sophie's murder was held in France. 

In 2019, Bailey faced trial in Paris in absentia. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to 25 years in prison. In 2020, however, Ireland's High Court ruled Bailey could not be extradited to France.

The contents of Bailey's diaries have since been released by police and are now on the public record.

His writings, going back as far as 30 years ago, led cops to believe he was a valid suspect in the case, the diaries filled with dark, sexual fantasies. It is important to note that Sophie was no sexually assaulted during her murder.

"I am totally obsessed by sex, I love my drugs and I adore alcohol. I think there is little hope of redemption in this life. Sex for me is for ­pleasure. I can quite clearly verify that exposure to erotica and porn does head to the mind being taken over by lustful thoughts," he wrote. 

Most disturbingly, he wrote extensively about assaulting his former partner Jules Thomas.

"It is difficult for me to put down what occurred due to a bottle of whiskey, two pints of porter (beer), two pints of wine and a number of tequila slammers. I attacked and severely beat Jules to such an extent she sought hospital treatment and then on re-entering the house I relived my attack and proceeded to cause ­further injury on top," Bailey wrote.


"I feel a sense of sickness at seeing my own account of that dreadful night. I actually tried to kill her. I must be a lot more self-centred and selfish than I ­realised. I need to bring about great change. I can see I am in great moral danger."

Ian Bailey in 2020. Image: Getty. Following his death last month, investigators raided his home and reportedly took away hundreds of new notebooks containing recent writings as well as his laptop.


Investigators hope new evidence or a confession of Sophie's murder might be retrieved.

Bailey always professed his innocence. 

In the years since, the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier has become a national obsession in both Ireland and France. The controversial case was even the subject of Netflix's true crime miniseries, Sophie: A Murder in West Cork.

The three-part miniseries was created with the blessing of Sophie's family including her son, Pierre-Louis Baudey, who was 15 years old at the time of her murder.

"I was a little boy, an only child. I was extremely close to mum. It was a sudden transformation from childhood to adulthood. A little part of us all crumbled," he shared.

Since his mother's death, Pierre-Louis has campaigned for justice for his mother. He is convinced of Ian Bailey's guilt in the murder.

This article was originally published in July 2021, and has since been updated with new information.

If this has raised any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service.

Feature Image: Netflix.