Ian Bailey's solicitors hit by break-in
GARDAI are investigating a break-in at the offices of one of Ireland's most high-profile solicitors.
The office of Frank Buttimer, in Cork city, was targeted at around 11pm on January 22 when a burglar broke in through a back window.
An alarm in the solicitor's office was activated and gardai were at the scene within minutes -- but the burglar had fled.
It is understood sensitive case files were in the office, including a file on Ian Bailey, who is appealing against a High Court order for his extradition to France in connection with the December 1996 murder of French film-maker Sophie Toscan du Plantier.
Mr Buttimer has been representing Bailey (54) in his lengthy battle against French authorities.
No files were stolen in the break-in, which involved "a small amount of ransacking" and gardai are following a definite line of inquiry.
It is understood that computers which were stolen in the burglary -- at the premises in Washington Street in Cork city -- have now been returned to Mr Buttimer.
A source said: "I can confirm that this happened on Sunday night of last week but it was a routine break-in and nothing more sinister than that."
According to the latest figures, published earlier this month, Mr Buttimer was second in the solicitors' criminal legal- aid list for 2010, getting €866,006 from the State.
The highly respected solicitor has been involved in some of the State's most controversial cases.
Apart from representing Ian Bailey, the former chief suspect in the 1996 murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, Mr Buttimer also represented student Wayne O'Donoghue in his murder trial over the 2005 killing of schoolboy Robert Holohan in Midleton, Co Cork.
O'Donoghue was convicted of manslaughter and has been living in England since doing jail time.
Apart from these high-profile clients, Mr Buttimer also represents a large amount of other clients.
At a recent hearing in the Supreme Court, it emerged that a garda team led by Assistant Commissioner Ray McAndrew began a review of the Ian Bailey case in 2005 after Mr Buttimer wrote to then minister for justice Michael McDowell.
The solicitor informed the minister that a key witness, Marie Farrell, had alleged that she had been coerced by gardai into falsely incriminating Mr Bailey. Bailey is now awaiting a Supreme Court ruling on his appeal against extradition.