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Sophie’s son and brother to attend Goleen memorial event at weekend

Saturday, 14th January, 2017 8:10pm
Sophie’s son and brother to attend Goleen memorial event at weekend

Sophie Toscan du Plantier

SOPHIE Toscan du Plantier’s son and brother will mark the 20th anniversary of her killing in December 1996 when they attend a special memorial mass in Goleen on Sunday.

Her son, Pierre Louis Baudey-Vignaud and her brother, Bertrand Bouniol, and Mr Bouniol’s son, Baptiste, will travel to West Cork this week to attend the special memorial mass at the Church of Our Lady, Star of the Sea and St Patrick in Goleen at 12 noon on Sunday.

The visit comes days after it emerged that the Gárda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) has decided not to send a file to the Director of Public Prosecutions following a five-year investigation into the garda inquiry into the murder.

 Although it is believed that GSOC may still make recommendations on garda procedures and practices to the Garda Commissioner.

The GSOC investigation followed a complaint to it by English journalist Ian Bailey (59) in late 2011, alleging the gardaí had sought to frame him for the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier (39) at her holiday home at Drinane, Toormore, in the early hours of December 23rd 1996.

Mr Bailey made his complaint on foot of material, including a highly critical review of the garda investigation by a solicitor at the DPP’s office (Robert Sheehan) in November 2001. Mr Bailey had received the material in November 2011 as he fought an extradition request from France over the murder.

Mr Bailey’s complaint relied heavily on comments by Mr Sheehan regarding the unreliability of key witness Schull shopkeeper Marie Farrell, who identified Mr Bailey as a man she saw at Kealfadda Bridge – 2.6kms from Ms Toscan du Plantier’s home on the night of the murder.

Mr Bailey also relied on comments by Mr Sheehan about how gardaí handled another witness, Martin Graham, who claimed gardaí gave him hash to obtain a confession from Mr Bailey on tape which prompted Mr Sheehan to describe ‘such investigative practices as clearly unsafe’.

And Mr Bailey also drew on an email from former DPP, Eamon Barnes, in which he said that West Cork State solicitor Malachy Boohig had notified him of an approach by a senior garda to contact the then Minister for Justice, John O’Donoghue, to get the DPP to charge Mr Bailey with the murder.

Ms Farrell later retracted her statement incriminating Mr Bailey, and alleged she had been coerced by gardaí into falsely identifying Mr Bailey as the man at Kealfadda Bridge. Mr Graham later gave media interviews detailing his allegation of being offered drugs to entrap Mr Bailey.

GSOC began their investigation in late February 2012 and then Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, said he believed that it was in the public interest that Mr Bailey’s allegations be fully investigated. GSOC investigators spent the past five years investigating the complaints.

GSOC investigators took detailed statements from both Mr Bailey and his partner Jules Thomas, and also Ms Farrell. They attempted to take a statement from Mr Graham, while they also interviewed over a dozen serving and retired gardaí involved in the original murder investigation.

But it emerged this week that GSOC has opted not to send the file to the DPP after reviewing the extensive file by its investigators as it doesn’t believe it found any evidence to meet the threshold of criminal behaviour required by the DPP to warrant a prosecution.

Instead GSOC will supply copies of its report, understood to be one of the lengthiest ever prepared by the agency, to Mr Bailey and the other relevant parties, including the Garda Commissioner and the Minister for Justice, before publishing it either later this month, or early in February.

During Mr Bailey’s unsuccessful High Court action against the State for damages over his wrongful arrest, Ms Farrell said that she had been ‘getting confused with fact and fiction’ in an interview with GSOC investigators in 2012.

In the interview she confirmed to GSOC investigators a statement she made in 1997 about a visit that Mr Bailey made to her shop in Schull, in which she alleged he threatened to tell the DHSS in Britain about a fraudulent social welfare claim. But she told the High Court that had never happened.

In the wake of the High Court action, GSOC said that it had no plans to re-interview Ms Farrell after her retraction of her statement to their investigators, with one informed source commenting that the GSOC team ‘didn’t feel there was any great value in going back to her’.

Meanwhile, Mr Graham confirmed during the High Court case that he refused to speak to GSOC investigators who travelled to meet him at the Park Hotel in Northampton in the UK on February 11th 2013, because of a dispute over whether GSOC would pay the expenses he was seeking.

Mr Bailey from Prairie, Liscaha, Schull, was twice arrested for questioning about Ms Toscan du Plantier’s murder, but was released without charge on both occasions and he has denied any involvement in the murder and denied ever making any admissions in relation the murder.