Who was Sophie Toscan du Plantier? The shocking true story behind Netflix's Sophie: A Murder In West Cork

30 June 2021, 15:09 | Updated: 30 June 2021, 15:12

Sophie Toscan du Plantier was brutally murdered outside her holiday home in West Cork
Sophie Toscan du Plantier was brutally murdered outside her holiday home in West Cork. Picture: Netflix

The brand new documentary looks into the unsolved murder of French television producer Sophie Toscan du Plantier, who was found dead outside her holiday home in West Cork, Ireland in 1996.

Sky documentary Murder At The Cottage: The Search For Justice For Sophie was released earlier this month and now it's been followed by Netflix's Sophie: A Murder in West Cork.

The limited series looks at the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, a French television producer who was found dead outside her holiday home in West Cork, Ireland in 1996.

Although her murder took place 25 years ago, the case is still shrouded in uncertainty and has sparked debate in both Ireland and France.

Read on to learn more about the shocking true story that the new Sky and Netflix documentaries are centred around.

READ MORE: The harrowing true story behind Believe Me: The Abduction of Lisa McVey

Who was Sophie Toscan du Plantier?

Born on July 28, 1957, Sophie Toscan du Plantier was a 39-year-old French television producer.

She had a husband named Daniel and the pair share a son.

What happened to her?

On the night of December 23, 1996, Sophie was savagely beaten to death outside her holiday cottage in Schull, West Cork.

Her body, whose skull had been crushed, was discovered by a neighbour near the remote holiday home.

The murder, which shook the local community and remains one of the most infamous cases in Ireland, has been described as a "national obsession".

Who is Ian Bailey and where is he now?

British journalist Ian Bailey, now 64, was investigating Sophie's murder, initially filing reports on the case before he became a prime suspect himself.

To this day, Bailey maintains his innocence and has never been charged in Ireland in relation to her death.

However, Bailey was convicted in absentia by the Cour d’Assises de Paris, France.

The French court sentenced him to 25 years in prison and attempted to extradite him under a European Arrest Warrant.

A High Court judge then ruled against the application, with Bailey "trapped" in Cork to this day to avoid extradition.

What have the documentary makers said about the case?

Jim Sheridan, the man behind Sky's Murder at the Cottage: The Search for Justice for Sophie documentary, said: “As a filmmaker, many stories fascinate me, but this story compels me. I just think that once you start into it, it draws you in."

He added: "I started with a mundane idea of: ‘I wonder what was going on down there?’ I knew Schull from the [Fastnet] film festival and I was at the very first film festival, because [Schull-based musician] Maurice Seezer had done the music for my movies, and they asked me to come down.

"Around that time, I started to get interested in the story, because it had left a kind of scar on West Cork. And I met Bailey by chance in the Four Courts."

Speaking of their Netflix series, Suzanne Lavery and Jonathan Chinn commented: "Sophie was much more than a victim of a murder. She was a mother, a daughter, a sister, a filmmaker and a writer. Whatever actually happened on that cold December night in 1996, the story is one of a collision of worlds, cultures and characters and it was that which drew us to it.

"But it was meeting and gaining the trust of Sophie’s family which really gave us our purpose. Justice has eluded them for a quarter of a century since Sophie’s death and their main aim in cooperating with us to make this series is to do justice to her memory. We hope we have achieved that, for them."

Murder at the Cottage: The Search for Justice for Sophie is out on Sky and NOW TV now

Sophie: A Murder in West Cork is available to stream on Netflix from 30 June 2021

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