The story behind new Netflix true crime series Sophie: A Murder in West Cork

Television producer Sophie was killed in 1993, and the series was released today

Netflix has just released a new true crime series called Sophie: A Murder in West Cork. The three-part documentary explores the case of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, a television producer who was killed in 1993. The case has been called one of Ireland’s most notorious ever.

Sophie was a French woman, who visited Ireland several times when she was younger, before she brought a holiday home in Schull. In 1993 she had decided to make a solo trip to her holiday home there, intending on returning to Paris a few days later. However, she never made it home to France and was found dead on December 23rd.

Here’s the story of what happened to her, which is now being told in the Netflix documentary series.

The death of Sophie Toscan du Plantier and true story behind Netflix true crime series Sophie: A Murder in West Cork

via Netflix

Sophie: A Murder in West Cork is based on the true story of Sophie Toscan du Plantier

39-year-old Sophie Toscan du Plantier was a French television producer who was killed outside her holiday home near Schull, County Cork, Ireland, on the night of the 23rd December 1996. Sophie lived in Paris with her film producer husband, Daniel Toscan du Plantier, and son from her first marriage, Pierre Louis Baudey-Vignaud.

She had frequently visited the area of County Cork in Ireland as a teenager and the locals there knew her well. She bought a holiday home there, and arrived alone to stay in her home on December 20th 1993. She had made plans to return to Paris in time for Christmas.

The death of Sophie Toscan du Plantier and true story behind Netflix true crime series Sophie: A Murder in West Cork

via Netflix

On the morning of December 23rd, Sophie’s body was discovered by a neighbour. She was in her nightwear and had been beaten with a piece of slate which was found at the scene. The pathologist wasn’t able to attend the crime scene for 28 hours and her body had been outside for all of that time. Her injuries are said to have been so bad that the neighbour hadn’t been able to identify her when they found her. The news of the crime sent shockwaves through Ireland.

The main suspect was journalist Ian Bailey, who was born in Manchester and had been working for the local newspapers at the time – he was one of the first on the scene. He became a suspect because he had scratches on his face and arms, there were claims of a changing alibi and a witness statement from a local resident claimed to have seen him on a bridge near where the body was found.

In 2019, Bailey was convicted to 25 years in prison for her murder in a Parisian court in absentia. Initially there was not enough evidence to charge Bailey and he was arrested twice but released because of this. He also lost a libel case against six newspapers in 2003 and lost a wrongful arrest case against the French Minister for Justice and Attorney General in 2015. He has always denied the murder.

Ian Bailey

via Netflix

However, 25 years later, there still has been no justice in the case. If a French citizen is murdered outside of France, extraterritorial jurisdiction still applies, under French law. Though the country has made several attempts to extradite him, Ireland’s High Court ruled against it due to there being no proof beyond reasonable doubt. Which means he was found guilty in France, but he still lives a free man in Ireland. The 25-year Irish police investigation is still ongoing.

Bailey maintains his innocence and instead says Sophie’s husband ordered her killing. Daniel Toscan du Plantier has a solid alibi and there have been no further notable suspects.

The death of Sophie Toscan du Plantier and true story behind Netflix true crime series Sophie: A Murder in West Cork

via Netflix

The three-part Netflix series looks at the whole story from the beginning to the present day. It features exclusive interviews from members of du Plantier’s family, as well as interviews with local press and Schull residents. The Netflix synopsis reads: “A shocking murder in rural Ireland sets off an increasingly convoluted quest for justice that spans decades and cuts across national borders.”

Watch the trailer for Sophie: A Murder in West Cork here:

Sophie: A Murder in West Cork is available on Netflix now. For all the latest Netflix news, drops, quizzes and memes like The Holy Church of Netflix on Facebook. 

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