Jim Sheridan making one of two documentary series about high-profile West Cork murder case

Jim Sheridan making one of two documentary series about high-profile West Cork murder case

Jim Sheridan. Picture: Sky studios

Renowned Irish playwright, screenwriter, director and producer Jim Sheridan is to make his documentary series debut with Murder at the Cottage: The search for justice for Sophie, examining the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier in West Cork in 1996.

The new five-part series, produced by Hell’s Kitchen in association with Sky Studios, will feature Du Plantier's family and include British journalist Ian Bailey, the man who has been at the centre of the investigation.

In 1996, two days before Christmas, Sophie, the wife of French filmmaker Daniel Toscan du Plantier, was brutally murdered at her holiday cottage in Schull in West Cork. 

The murder rocked the quiet Irish town and 24 years later, the case remains unsolved.

Mr Bailey – the first reporter on the scene – was quickly arrested by local police following eye-witness reports, yet was never found guilty in Ireland, owing to a lack of reliable evidence. 

Despite this, Bailey was found guilty in absentia by the French courts in 2019 and sentenced to 25 years in prison. 

Having successfully fought repeated extradition requests from the French authorities, Bailey still resides in West Cork and maintains his innocence to this day.

The series pieces together original evidence, never-before-seen footage and interviews with those closest to the case in a bid to make sense of what happened that night.

Sheridan, who narrates the documentary and also appears on-screen, says the case has always fascinated him.

"It is a murder that carries implications for the meaning of justice in Ireland, in France and in the UK. 

"It is a murder that calls into question the meaning of Europe, as the convicted man in France is free in Ireland. 

"It is a story that calls into question the meaning and process of the police and the legal system. 

"It is a story that shines a light on domestic violence. It is a story about primal fear. About a devil in the hills. 

"About the existence of evil among us. 

"I would like to thank all those who have contributed to this series, but in particular to Sophie’s family who are still searching for justice," he said.

The series is expected to air on Sky Crime next year.

Separately, a new three-part documentary series about Sophie Toscan du Plantier’s life, made in collaboration with her family, is coming to Netflix.

The series, directed by John Dower and produced by Lightbox, is expected to come to Netflix in 2021.

"This series will take viewers on a journey filled with unexpected twists and turns as we carefully unravel an extraordinary story from its beginning, 24 years ago, to the present day," Simon Chinn, co-Founder of Lightbox and Executive Producer commented.

"The series will include interviews with the key players in Ireland and France, including the man convicted in France of Sophie’s murder, Ian Bailey, and we will drill down into the evidence surrounding a murder investigation which remains mired in anguish and controversy," he continued.

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