The main suspect in the murder of French TV producer Sophie Toscan du Plantier has died in Cork after suffering a heart attack.
Ian Bailey, 66, had a very severe heart condition and had been a candidate for surgery before he died.
His solicitor Frank Buttimer, who had known Mr Bailey since March 1997, said he was ‘very upset’ to hear of his death.
He said: ‘I knew Ian was very unwell, we were in communication in the past five days, but I didn’t know he was terminally unwell. He had a very severe heart condition, a very bad heart condition, and had cardiac events prior to Christmas.
‘He was a candidate for surgical intervention but wasn’t well enough, so he was trying to become well enough.’
Ms Toscan du Plantier made headlines after her body was found badly beaten outside her holiday home in Schull, West Cork, in December 1996, when she was 39.
Mr Bailey, who also lived in Schull, was convicted of her murder in absentia by a Paris court in May 2019, which imposed a 25-year sentence.
He had no legal representation, did not attend the court and described it as a farce at the time.
In October 2020, the High Court in Ireland rejected an attempt by French authorities to extradite Mr Bailey for the murder.
The court ruled that he would not be surrendered to France after a European Arrest Warrant was issued in 2019.
Mr Bailey has always vehemently denied any involvement in Ms Toscan du Plantier’s death.
Manchester-born Bailey tried to build a career as a journalist before moving to West Cork in the mid-1990s where he turned his hand to poetry, gardening and running a pizza stall with his former partner.
Ms Toscan du Plantier’s murder was brought back to attention after a Netflix documentary series was released in 2021.
Her body lay tangled in brambles, her pyjamas were torn and a bloodied concrete block was found beside her.
The mother-of-one was a regular visitor to Ireland, but she normally lived in Paris with her husband – celebrated filmmaker Daniel Toscan du Plantier – and son Pierre-Louis Baudey-Vignaud.
Pierre-Louis was only 15 when she died.
He said in the documentary: ‘She wasn’t just the wife of a French producer. She was arty and intellectual. She was very social but more than half of her was solitary: writing, thinking, meditating.’
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