After 23 years of trying to clear his name, Ian Bailey is bracing for the appellation he has always dreaded: convicted murderer, reports The Guardian.
A court in Paris is due to try the English former journalist this week for the 1996 murder of the French film-maker Sophie Toscan du Plantier in west Cork, a bucolic Atlantic region known as the Irish riviera.
“They’re going to bonfire me,” said Bailey. “The tectonic plates of my life … are likely to shift horribly and hugely and cataclysmically because I’ll almost certainly be convicted.”
The trial – which he will not attend – is the latest twist in a cold case that has bewitched Ireland and a global audience of podcast listeners.
Soon after Toscan du Plantier’s battered body was found outside her holiday cottage on 23 December 1996, Irish police identified Bailey, who lived nearby, as the prime suspect.
The protracted, bungled investigation turned into a soap opera that remains unresolved: Irish prosecutors decided there was insufficient evidence to charge Bailey but many people – including French authorities – remain convinced he did it.
“It feels like medieval torture. I didn’t do it. I had nothing to do with it,” Bailey, 62, told The Guardian in an interview this week at his cottage in Lissacaha. “In Paris all they’ll do is convict an innocent man.”
Under French law a person suspected of murdering a French citizen in another jurisdiction can be tried in France. Three judges will rule on the case.
For the family of Toscan du Plantier, who was 39 when she was bludgeoned to death, a conviction will be long overdue and pave the way to potential extradition.
Her son, Pierre-Louis Baudey Vignaud, visited west Cork last week to urge witnesses to testify at the trial. “My mother, Sophie, is not a ghost, she is the victim of human cruelty and violence which has no place here,” he said in a public appeal. “Sophie fought like a lioness against the most atrocious violence there is … I can’t bear the thought of her blood seeping into your soil.”