The unsolved murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier has haunted the people of West Cork, Ireland for almost 25 years.
Now, in a five-part documentary series, six-time Oscar nominee Jim Sheridan will piece together original evidence, never-before-seen footage and interviews with those closest to the case as he tries to make sense of what happened that night.
Here’s what you need to know about Murder At The Cottage: The Search For Justice For Sophie.
What is the true story behind Murder At The Cottage: The Search For Justice For Sophie?
In 1996, two days before Christmas, French television producer Sophie Toscan du Plantier apparently tried to flee when an intruder broke into her holiday cottage in Schull, West Cork.
She “was caught and brutally killed when her clothing tragically snagged on barbed wire by the roadside,” says the Irish Independent.
The key suspect, English journalist Ian Bailey – the first reporter on the scene – was quickly arrested following eyewitness reports. However, he was released without charge owing to a lack of reliable evidence.
Speaking to the Irish Mirror, Bailey has said: “I never met Sophie or knew her. I saw her in the distance, and that was it. She lived a few kilometres away from us in Schull.”
Despite having never been found guilty in Ireland, Bailey continues to find himself publicly blamed by locals for Toscan de Plantier’s death. And, in 2019, he was found guilty in absentia by the French courts and sentenced to 25 years in prison.
“The whole French trial was bullshit. Ian wasn’t represented and they were presenting hearsay as fact. It was a complete and utter farce,” Bailey’s lawyer, Frank Buttimer, told the Irish Mirror.
“And then the three judges sentence him to 25 years in his absence… if he ever goes into a French prison, he will never get out of it.
“The French will keep moving him around. He won’t get any visitors, he will die there.”
Bailey has successfully fought repeated extradition requests from the French authorities for years, and still resides in West Cork. He maintains his innocence to this day.
Is there a trailer for Murder At The Cottage: The Search For Justice For Sophie?
“People want answers,” Sheridan – who narrates the series – can be heard saying.
“They want conclusions.”
What are people saying about Murder At The Cottage: The Search For Justice For Sophie?
Sheridan, who has been working on the documentary for more than five years and has recorded hundreds of hours of footage, has said that he “just wants to get the truth.”
“I have to be the kind of chief investigator in some kind of way, and there are crazy questions that nobody asks that boggled my mind,” the director tells Variety.
“I don’t have the training or the obsession that somebody like a Kubrick or Scorsese would have, but I do think I have a little bit of ability to look with kind of x-ray eyes.”
Sheridan adds: “I just want to get to the truth and I won’t stop till I get there.
“And believe me, I’ll do that on this to the best of my ability. And I don’t care who tries to cross my path, I’ll just go after it.”
What is the release date for Murder At The Cottage: The Search For Justice For Sophie?
Murder at the Cottage: The Search for Justice for Sophie, a Sky Original documentary, airs 20 June with all episodes available to watch on Sky Crime and NOW.
We will bring you more details as and when they become available.
Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.