Sophie Toscan du Plantier murder: Court convicts Ian Bailey

Ian Bailey Image copyright AFP
Image caption Irish authorities have twice refused to extradite Ian Bailey

A former journalist has been convicted of the murder of a French film producer in Ireland more than 20 years ago.

A court in Paris convicted Ian Bailey, who is originally from Manchester, in absentia for the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier.

The 62-year-old, with an address at the Prairie, Toormore, County Cork, has been sentenced to 25 years in prison.

His solicitor, Frank Buttimer, said the decision was a "grotesque miscarriage of justice".

The trial lasted three days. Irish authorities have twice refused to extradite Bailey.

He has repeatedly denied any involvement in the killing, and his lawyers dismissed the proceedings in France as a "show trial".

Ms Toscan du Plantier was assaulted near a holiday home her husband had bought near Schull in west County Cork more than 22 years ago.

Her badly beaten body was discovered by neighbours in a laneway near the house on 23 December 1996.

During the trial, judges were shown photographs of the blood-stained rock and concrete block which were found close to the victim's body.

The court was also told that her house revealed no signs of the presence of an intruder. It is believed she opened the door to her killer.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Sophie Toscan du Plantier was found beaten to death near her cottage in County Cork in 1996

There was no jury in the trial and the three judges took about five hours to reach a verdict.

Speaking to Irish national broadcaster RTÉ, Mr Buttimer, Bailey's defence solicitor, said it was not a criminal trial or carried out in the way it would be in the Republic of Ireland.

He claimed it was no more than "a rubber-stamping exercise" of "the pre-determined guilt" of Mr Bailey "as far as the French criminal justice system is concerned".

Nobody has ever been charged in Ireland in connection with Ms Toscan du Plantier's death.

Bailey, who lived three kilometres from her, was twice arrested for questioning by gardaí (Irish police) but released without charge.

As he was not present in court for the French proceedings, Bailey cannot appeal the verdict.

However, under French law, anyone found guilty of a crime in absentia is entitled to a second trial in France where they will be present in court and represented by defence lawyers.

French authorities will now request his extradition for a third time.

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