REVIEW: Sophie - A murder in West Cork | Episode 3

September 29th, 2022 8:00 AM

By Dylan Mangan

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It's a story that doesn't seem to stop.

The murder of Sophie Toscan Du Plantier has spawned podcasts, documentaries and hundreds, if not thousands, of articles - all focused on trying to figure out what happened on the night of the 23rd of December 1996.

We have covered the story from all angles - reporting on latest events and even reviewing the original West Cork podcast.

With the news this year that gardaí are launching a full review of the investigation that took place all those years ago, we decided to take a look at the two documentaries that, along with the podcast, brought the story to international attention.

Our review of episode two can be found here.

We continue with Sophie: A Murder in West Cork - Episode Three

Episode three is titled Justice, which seems ever so slightly misleading considering the one thing you can say for certain about this case is that it has never felt like justice has been served – especially considering the still unsolved nature of the whole thing.

The beginning of the episode focuses mainly on Bailey again, and the revelation that he had ‘confessed’ to multiple people.

New Year’s Eve after a night in a pub in Schull. At a friend’s party while talking to a psychic. In the car with a 14-year-old Malachi Reed.

It’s an impressive list of allegations.

The episode also reveals some of the ironic twists of fate which occurred throughout the case.

Like how Sophie’s family say the gardaí told them on multiple occasions that the end was in sight.

Or how, seven years after the murder, a libel case brought by Bailey against Irish newspapers revealed previously unseen DPP files to the public.

In an ironic twist of fate, Schull residents who were interviewed by gardaí testified in court and put their stories on the public record.

We also learn of alleged assaults on his partner Jules – who is said to have been left with horrendous bruises and an eye socket which almost caved in on itself.

'I don't want to go back into them,' he says of the incidents.

'They are long past.

'On that occasion, she'd been drinking, we'd both been drinking, maybe. I don't know what happened but she started to grab me. I was pushing her back, I hurt her in that process.'

Interviewees express their shock that Ireland never put him on trial following the libel case and the revelations that came with it.

Exasperated, Sophie's family set up the "Association for the Truth about the Murder of Sophie Toscan Du Plantier" - effectively foreshadowing the existence of the West Cork Podcast and the documentary itself.

The filmmakers expertly throw these pieces of information at you, one after another, like a boxer at the top of their game.

Marie Farrell retracts her statement, now saying she's 100% positive Bailey wasn't involved.

She claims gardaí forced her to identify him.

A gate - potentially key evidence - goes missing.

With each reveal you're not sure where to look next.

In all of this, the star (for want of a better word) of the show is Sophie's son, Pierre Louis-Baudey, who has campaigned tirelessly for justice and continues to do so to this day.

He's the main driving force behind the action taken against Bailey in France.

The filmmakers have held back on focusing on him up until this episode, which is a decision designed to have the maximum impact.

Previous episodes have brought up the idea of true crime as being disrespectful towards victims, so perhaps the justice here is the focus on Sophie herself.

Of course, justice has been served in some sense with the conviction of Bailey in absentia in France – however it doesn’t feel just. Not to us mere onlookers, to Sophie’s family, or to Ian Bailey.

'The one thing I've learned from covering the story for 24 years is that every time you think it has played out, it never fails to surprise you,' says journalist Barry Roche.

With gardaí reviewing the murder case, we might need to get ready for more twists and turns.

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