Sophie Toscan du Plantier: An Approach
This is my mission statement from August 2021, when I felt like I knew as much as anyone would want to know. I was wrong then, but what do you think of the approach in general?
I take a step backwards on the Sophie Cold Case
I cannot overstate the impact the Jim Sheridan Sky documentary had on me. The case was gripping from the first moment, but the jeopardy shoots off the scale at the moment, right at the end of an episode, when the prime suspect sits himself down in front of the camera. Incredibly, and shockingly, this suspect, the name on everyone’s lips, is not in hiding, nervous to go out, never mind give hours of media interviews about how he didn’t do it. The O. J. Simpson case was in the news a year before the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier and it had stuck in the mind. It was the first trial to be extensively televised and featured a celebrity suspect. There wasn’t one person in the western world who didn’t have an opinion, and most people thought he did it. Could Ian Bailey be Ireland’s O. J. Simpson? Outside Ireland, this case did not make the headlines. I have no recollection of it happening in 1996 and I was completely unaware that the Audible “West Cork” podcast series was about the same case, even though I had downloaded the first episode and listened to a few minutes of it. I mention this because the power of the new documentary is absolutely addictive.
I have read all the well-known books now by Michael Sheridan (no relation to Jim), Nick Foster and the excellently detailed book by Ralph Riegel. They each add an important perspective. The Netflix documentary, in a different style to Jim Sheridan’s, is also recommended. But that was when my mind began to question things more closely. Many of the stars of the Netflix show have contradicted their own sworn police statements, and testimony they themselves gave in various court appearances. Could there be something else going on?
As time goes on, those who placed themselves in the camp of Sophie’s family, like Michael Sheridan, have become convinced that Ian Bailey killed her. I am in no position to know either way, but I believe that my approach to this case, born out of frustration with all published accounts, is unique. It should not be unique, it should be the normal position of every neutral observer.
That’s right, my approach is going to be this: I am going to start from the presumption of innocence. Not to disprove those who think it was Bailey. He has spent over 20 years trying to do that with access I do not have and with some of the best legal minds in Ireland. Nobody can prove a negative. But let us start at the beginning: the starting point is that we do not know who killed Sophie.
Let us look.