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The Terrifying True Story Behind Netflix’s Documentary, ‘Sophie: A Murder In West Cork’

The three-part series explores the heartbreaking case of French documentary producer, Sophie Toscan du Plantier.

As any true crime fanatic will know, Netflix has become one of the go-to places to find fascinating and gripping explorations into some of the world’s most horrifying crimes. The streaming giant’s latest release is no different, turning to Ireland for a new look at one of the country’s most famous murders. 

Sophie: A Murder in West Cork is told in three parts, examining the murder of French documentary producer Sophie Toscan du Plantier, who was found dead outside her holiday cottage in West Cork in 1996. 

“Sophie’s brutal murder in one of the most beautiful and remote regions of Ireland shocked the country and triggered one of the biggest investigations it had ever seenand over the next two and a half decades became a national obsession in both Ireland and France,” it’s official description reads. “With access both to the victim’s family and the man who quickly became the main suspect in the police investigation, the series unravels this extraordinary story from its beginnings and offers a unique window into the ongoing battle to find justice for Sophie.” 

The documentary series features interviews from those involved in the investigation, locals from the small Irish town where Sophie was killed, as well as contributions from her son, Pierre-Louis, who is still seeking justice for his mother. 

Netflix’s docu-series also isn’t the first time Sophie’s murder has been explored extensively, with podcasts hosts Sam Bungey and Jennifer Forde conducting a deep dive into the crime through their series West Cork in 2018. 

Intrigued? Read on for a deep dive behind Netflix’s Sophie: A Murder in West Cork


What Really Happened To Sophie Toscan du Plantier? 

Sophie, a 39-year-old French documentary producer, was found beaten to death outside her holiday home in County Cork in December 1996, and her family has never seen justice for the brutal crime (despite the prime suspect being found guilty for the killing). 

“What actually happened on that cold December night in 1996, the story is one of a collision of worlds, cultures and characters and it was that which drew us to it,” co-producer Simon Chinn told Radio Times. “But it was meeting and gaining the trust of Sophie’s family which really gave us our purpose.”

Was Sophie Toscan du Plantier’s Killer Ever Found? 

British journalist Ian Bailey, who lived in a cottage close to where Sophie was found murdered, was named as a prime suspect in the case, and in 2019 he was found guilty of her murder by the Paris Cour d’Assises in France, despite the fact he did not attend the trial, being convicted in absentia. 

“All they’ve done is convict an innocent man who had nothing to do with the crime,” Bailey told The Guardian following the conviction. “All they’ve got is a pyrrhic victory.”

Despite being convicted, Bailey, now 64, has remained living in Cork County as several attempts to extradite him to France from Ireland have failed. In 2020, Ireland’s High Court ruled that he could not be extradited. 

Bailey maintains his innocence and has called the Netflix project “an objective documentary but a piece of demonising propaganda.” 

Sophie: A Murder in West Cork is available to stream on Netflix Australia from June 30. 

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