GARDAÍ investigating the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier outside Schull in 1996 said they know more information is out there in the wider community in West Cork to help solve the mystery of the French film producer’s death.
Supt Joe Moore of Bantry Garda Station made the comment at a media briefing and public appeal for information at the Harbour View Hotel in Schull on Monday afternoon.
He said that there may be some witnesses who were not in a position in 1996 to tell gardaí everything they know regarding her death, and he is appealing for them to now come forward and help them make a breakthrough in this case. He also said that new witnesses into Sophie’s murder have been identified on an ‘almost daily basis’ in the UK and France, and ‘other countries’.
The French film producer was found dead at her holiday home in Dunmanus West, Toormore on December 23rd 1996 and despite numerous appeals down through the years, no person has ever been charged with her murder in Ireland.
Supt Moore said he wants to establish the movements of Sophie between 4.30pm on December 22nd 1996, and when her body was discovered the following morning.
Sean Murray from Hurley’s Garage in Skibbereen may have been one of the last people to see Sophie alive, as she pulled into the garage in her rented silver Ford Fiesta with the registration plate 96 C 14459 on December 22nd, after coming from Cork Airport that afternoon.
He made a statement to gardaí in the weeks after her death and told them that a tall man was sitting beside Sophie in the car when the car pulled into the petrol station for a fill-up. However, he told The Southern Star this week that he hasn’t been contacted by the current investigation team looking into the case, but if he was, he would tell them exactly what he told gardaí in 1996.
Supt Moore said that he wanted to assure Sophie’s family and the wider public in West Cork that this is ‘very much a live and ongoing murder investigation and we will be actively pursuing all avenues of this investigation’.
‘I am appealing for these people to come forward 26 years later and speak to the investigation team and Sophie and her family deserve the truth. Put yourselves in the shoes of Sophie’s son and her family who are still looking for the truth into her murder,’ he added.
Det Supt Des McTiernan of the Serious Crime Review Team stressed that the latest review is not a ‘re-investigation’ of the 26-year-old case, but a review of the original investigation, which will be ‘proactively and consistently’ pursued. The gardaí will work closely with the investigation team based out of Bantry Garda Station, he said. Former journalist Ian Bailey was convicted of her murder in absentia in France, but the Irish authorities have refused to extradite him on several occasions.