Saturday 7 December 2019

Bailey ordered to pay €225k to French state and Sophie's relatives

Ian Bailey was found guilty of murder in a French court
Ian Bailey was found guilty of murder in a French court

Journalist Ian Bailey has been ordered to pay a total of €225,000 in damages to the French state and the family of murdered film producer Sophie Toscan du Plantier.

Mr Bailey (62) was convicted of the murder of Ms du Plantier (39) by a Paris court last month, and sentenced to 25 years' imprisonment. A warrant for his arrest is in process.

He has consistently denied the charges, and did not attend the week-long trial, which his lawyer, Frank Buttimer, called a "grotesque miscarriage of justice".

More than half of the money - €115,000 - will go to compensate a state guarantee fund for victims of terrorism and other offences, which advanced the payment to Ms du Plantier's family on foot of a high court order in March 2013. It is the same fund used to aid victims of the 2016 truck attack in Nice and 2015 Paris terror attacks.

Damages totalling an extra €110,000 have also been awarded to seven of Ms du Plantier's family members, with the bulk of the money going to her son and her parents. Her brothers, aunt and uncle were also named in a "civil judgment".

Mr Bailey has 10 years to make the payment, after which it will become unenforceable.

A lawyer for the family, Alain Spilliaert, said the decision was largely "symbolic". He doesn't expect the state to recoup its €115,000 advance payment, or for the family to receive the extra €110,000. But he said the award was "important from a psychological point of view".

According to the judgment, Ms du Plantier's parents, Marguerite and Georges Bouniol, and her 38-year-old son, Pierre-Louis Baudey-Vignaud, were awarded €25,000 each.

Ms du Plantier's brothers, Bertrand and Stephane Bouniol, and her aunt, Marie Madeleine Opalka, were awarded €10,000 each. Her uncle, Jean-Pierre Gazeau, was awarded €5,000.


A court spokesperson said the decision was "sovereign", and based on applications made by the family and supporting documents. The appeal for the €110,000 in extra compensation was made after the verdict was handed down on May 31.

The judgment holds Mr Bailey "entirely responsible" for the "personal injury" suffered by Ms du Plantier's family.

It describes Mr Bailey as "on the run" and "wanted", and says there has been "actual and certain" harm done to the family, "resulting directly from the acts for which Mr Bailey was convicted".

Ms du Plantier was battered to death at her holiday home in Toormore, near Schull in west Cork, just before Christmas 1996.

Nobody has been convicted of her murder in Ireland because the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) could not find "sufficient evidence". Lawyers for the family said the case can't be considered closed in Ireland because the DPP never reached a conclusion.

French public prosecutor Jean-Pierre Bonthoux last month criticised a 2011 DPP report into the murder and the garda's handling of the case, and accused Mr Bailey of "cowardice for failing to attend the trial".

Mr Bailey's conviction was the result of 23 years of campaigning by Ms du Plantier's family, who made a criminal complaint to the French authorities in 1997.

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