THE son of Sophie Toscan du Plantier will remember her quietly in France tomorrow, 22 years on from her brutal killing near her west Cork holiday home.
Pierre-Louis Baudey-Vignaud, who was just 15 years old when his mother was murdered, is hoping to travel to the holiday home in January with other family members for a Mass in her memory in Goleen.
But it is unlikely that Sophie’s parents Georges and Marguerite Buoniol will make the trip. For many years after the murder, they travelled to Goleen every December to mark her anniversary with Mass in Goleen.
Pierre-Louis, who was her only child, said: “My grandparents are now too tired to travel to Ireland.”
He is hoping that the New Year will bring peace and answered questions, as the French prepare to try Englishman Ian Bailey, in his absence, for his mother’s murder.
Mr Bailey was arrested twice by gardaí investigating the murder but was never charged. A French investigation set up a decade ago is now focused on Mr Bailey and Sophie’s family are expecting a trial in his absence, which is allowed under French law, in the early summer.
In the 10 years since the French probe got underway, Sophie’s remains were exhumed from her grave in France and reinterred after a fresh autopsy.
Mr Bailey has always argued his innocence and has fought against his extradition to France for the trial. However, his fight to prevent a French trial was rejected in France’s Supreme Court earlier this year.
Mr Baudey-Vignaud said: “The New Year will bring us a trial in France. We are really confident about the trial in France.”
He said the family were hoping that questions will be answered through the trial and that the mystery around the murder can be solved.
He added: “It is still very, very hard for us to have to wait so long for justice, 22 years of a wait. There is still a murderer out there.”
Believing firmly that his mother’s killer must be in the West Cork area, he added that it is in the interests of people in that area that the murderer is brought to justice.
He continued: “It makes no sense that we are waiting for 22 years.
“When there is somebody that has been killed, and we are still waiting for justice for 22 years, something is failing.”
In those 22 years, a lot has changed in the family that Sophie left behind. H
Her husband Daniel Toscan du Plantier has died, Pierre-Louis has grown up and married, and two grandchildren have been born.
Pierre-Louis said: “I have two children – Sophie is called after her. She is six years old. Louis is five years old.”
They are both regular visitors to their granny’s holiday home in Toormore, as Pierre-Louis makes the trip there a couple of times a year – despite it being the place where Sophie spent her last moments before being murdered.
A little cross with the name Sophie was erected at where her body was found.
During their visits in previous years, her parents laid flowers in her memory.
Despite the association with her death, the house has a special draw for Pierre-Louis and he said he has not told his children how she died or that she died at the holiday home.
He added: “They do not know she died in Ireland. I come with them every year, two or three times a year.”
The place is special to him because he had visited there with Sophie in the years before her death and he has many memories from there.
And he said: “I want my children to feel it is a good place.”
At the time of her death, Sophie was making final arrangements to return home to France to spend Christmas with her loved ones.
Now, 22 years later, Pierre-Louis still does not enjoy what is a festive period for most people, because it is so closely linked to his mother’s death but also because each passing year brings another Christmas without the answers about who killed his mother and why.
He explained: “I do not enjoy the Christmas period. There is still someone missing and we do not know why. Someone did that (murdered her) and can go and enjoy Christmas. It is a shame.”
He added: “Every year it gets worse.”
And he said: “In this very kind country in west Cork, in that very friendly place, someone is a murderer and is still living there. It is a shame for all the people who live there. I don’t understand why justice has taken so long.”
It will be 22 years ago tomorrow since the battered body of Sophie Toscan du Plantier was discovered near her west Cork holiday home.