Netflix 'Sophie: A Murder in West Cork': How did Ian Bailey avoid his sentence after conviction?

Netflix 'Sophie: A Murder in West Cork': How did Ian Bailey avoid his sentence after conviction?
Ian Bailey as seen in 'Sophie: A Murder in West Cork' (Netflix)

'Sophie: A Murder in West Cork' looks at the brutal murder of French producer Sophie Toscan du Plantier, who was bludgeoned to death outside her holiday home in West Cork, Ireland, in December 1996. Over two decades after her death, West Cork is still haunted by this case, with the Netflix series offering a closer look into what happened while Ian Bailey, the prime suspect, addresses the incident.

If you're on the lookout for some more true-crime series to check out, consider the following titles: 'The Sons of Sam', 'Audrie & Daisy', 'Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez' and 'Making a Murderer.'



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Sophie Toscan du Plantier's body was found by her neighbour at 10 am in a lane outside her house. When the state Pathologist, John Harbison, arrived at the crime scene 28 hours later, he noted that her body had 'laceration and swelling of the brain, fracture of the skull, and multiple blunt head injuries'. On account of her severe injuries, her neighbour was unable to identify her initially. 

The Gardai, the national police service of the Republic of Ireland, was heavily criticized for mishandling evidence and alleged coerced witnesses as well. However, on January 11, Marie Farrell, a resident of Schull, contacted the Gardai via a payphone under an alias to report that she saw a man on Kealfadda Bridge at 3 am on the night of the murder.


Sophie Toscan du Plantier, 'Sophie: A Murder in West Cork' (Netflix)



Why was Ian Bailey the prime suspect?

The prime suspect was identified as Ian Bailey, a freelance journalist, poet, fish farm worker, gardener. Bailey had a history of domestic violence, having assaulted his partner Jules Thomas before. 

He claimed that he was informed of the murder at 1.40 pm by Irish Examiner reporter Eddie Cassidy, who denied the same, seeing that he did not know the woman was French at the point. 

Toscan du Plantier's body was found at 10 am, and as per multiple reports, Bailey was already reporting the murder of a french woman, three of which stated that they were offered crime scene photographs at about 11 am. 

Bailey reportedly had scratches on his forearms, and an injury on his forehead, which he claims was due to cutting down a Christmas tree on the morning of December 22. 

As reported by Newsweek, Bailey told roughly eight people that he was responsible for the murder. In 1998, under the influence of alcohol, Bailey admitted to Richie Shelley that he was responsible for the crime, saying, "I did it, I did it - I went too far". However, he later claimed that these were jokes and that he was misunderstood.


'Sophie: A Murder in West Cork' (Netflix)



Bailey vs Law

Despite two European Arrest Warrants, Bailey fought back, maintaining his innocence and even avoided extradition. 

In February 2010, a European Arrest Warrant was issued by France, seeing that under French law, extraterritorial jurisdiction applies to the murder of a French citizen anywhere in the world. The High Court in Ireland approved the same. Bailey appealed against his extradition to the Irish Supreme Court, which ruled in his favour.


In 2015, he claimed that the police were attempting to frame him for the murder and argued that they had even tampered with the evidence but subsequently lost that civil case. 

In March 2017, Bailey was arrested in Ireland, seeing that the French authorities issued another warrant to extradite Bailey to France to stand trial for the voluntary homicide of Sophie Toscan du Plantier. The High Court of Ireland endorsed the warrant. However, with Bailey avoiding extradition yet again, he was tried in absentia, seeing that the French court ruled there was 'sufficient grounds' to try him for the crime. As a result, he was convicted of murder and sentenced to 25 years in prison on May 31, 2019.

However, in a strange turn of events, on October 12 2020, Ireland's High Court ruled that Bailey would not be extradited and hence would not be serving his 25-year sentence in France. The Irish State did not appeal the High Court's finding either, which brought an end to France's attempts to extradite him.


Bailey claims to know who the murderer is

Before the release of Jim Sheridan's 'Murder at the Cottage: The Search for Justice for Sophie', which premiered on June 20, 2021, Bailey claimed he knows who might have committed the crime. 
"In cases like this, you have to ask who benefited most from her death?" he said while talking to the Irish Mirror


"Her husband was having an affair with his fourth wife Melita Nikolic; he had a substantial amount of insurance on Sophie's life. He acted very strangely after her death," he explained. 
"I suspect the hitman is from France, it was always one of the theories in the case, but it was never seriously followed up by the gardai," he added. However, Daniel Toscan du Plantier, Sophie's husband, passed away in 2003. 

'Sophie: A Murder in West Cork' is available on Netflix from June 30, 2021. 


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 'Sophie: A Murder in West Cork': How Ian Bailey has been convicted and avoided his sentence