sophie-murder-in-west-cork

The shocking true story behind Netflix's Sophie: A Murder in West Cork

Have you watched the new true-crime show?

Francesca Shillcock

Netflix's latest true-crime offering comes in the form of three-part series, Sophie: A Murder in West Cork. The new series seeks to delve into the shocking murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, a French socialite who was a frequent visitor to West Cork before she was murdered in 1996 – sparking one of the biggest murder investigations Ireland had ever seen.

MORE: Netflix cancels four shows - and fans are seriously disappointed

The synopsis for the series reads: "The documentary will chart the circumstances of her death, unravelling the extraordinary story from its beginning, 24 years ago to the present day. With exclusive access to Sophie Toscan du Plantier's family, the series will bring together, for the first time, the views of her family with Ian Bailey, the man at the centre of the investigation."

We've some investigating of our own, so before you dive into the three episodes – take a look at the shocking true story behind the programme…

Loading the player...

WATCH: Official trailer for Sophie: A Murder in West Cork

Who was Sophie Toscan du Plantier?

Sophie Toscan du Plantier was a French TV producer and socialite who enjoyed big success in her career. In 1991, she married famed French film maker Daniel Toscan Du Plantier, and the couple had one son together, Pierre-Louis Baudey-Vignaud.

Sophie was a frequent visitor to West Cork and was often accompanied by her son, who was aged 15 at the time of her death. The family were the owners of a remote holiday cottage located near Schull, in County Cork, and were known by the local residents.

What happened to Sophie Toscan du Plantier?

On the morning of 23 December 1996, at aged 39, Sophie was found dead by her neighbours just a short distance from her cottage, dressed in her night dress and boots. It was then revealed that she has been struck to the head by the perpetrator.

A pathologist later explained that the TV producer had sadly suffered from "laceration and swelling of the brain, fracture of the skull, and multiple blunt head injuries."

MORE: Find out what Netflix show you should be watching based on your star sign

MORE: Melinda confirms shock romance with Too Hot to Handle co-star - and it's not Marvin

sophie-murder-in-west-cork

Sophie Toscan du Plantier was murdered in 1996

Was the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier ever solved?

Finding Sophie's killer was no straight forward feat. Ian Bailey, a journalist who was covering the story, was one of the first people to arrive on the crime scene and soon became a prime suspect. He faced suspicion due to alleged injuries on his arms, but no forensic evidence of him being present at the time of Sophie's death was found – making charging him not possible.  

Two months after Sophie's murder, Ian was arrested and questioned but later released. The former writer, who appears in the Netflix documentary, has always denied the accusations against him. Fast forwarding to 2008, Sophie's body was exhumed by authorities in France and the quest to getting justice for her continued.

sophie-son-murder-west-cork

Sophie's son, Pierre-Louis Baudey-Vignaud, was just 15 years old when she died

Eleven years later, French authorities then found there was significant evidence against Bailey. Despite being absent from the trial, he was subsequently convicted by the Paris Cour d'Assisses court in France. Ian Bailey, now 64, still lives in Cork after a court in Ireland rules that he could not be extradited. He denies the charges against him.

What are the viewers saying about Sophie: A Murder in West Cork?

Plenty of viewers are watching the documentary and have taken to social media to share their thoughts on the horrific crime. One person wrote: "Finished watching #SophieMurderinWestCork on @netflix Ian Bailey is a twisted soul, who I believe is a danger to his community.

"My heart aches for Sophie's family- a woman who was misunderstood, wanting to live alone in a remote rural home in solitude with her art peacefully." Another echoed this, writing: "#murderinwestcork, my heart goes out to the family." 

Like this story? Sign up to our newsletter to get other stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.