Duffield deaths: Man jailed for murdering wife and new partner

  • Published
Helen Hancock and Martin GriffithsImage source, Family photos
Image caption,
Helen Hancock and Martin Griffiths were found by police on New Year's Day

A man has been jailed for life for murdering his wife and her new partner on New Year's Day.

Derby Crown Court heard Helen Hancock, 39, and Martin Griffiths, 48, suffered 103 injuries when they were stabbed at her home in Duffield, Derbyshire.

A paramedic said it was the "most violent incident he had ever seen", the court was told.

Rhys Hancock, who admitted both murders when found at the scene, was jailed for a minimum of 31 years.

The court heard how 40-year-old Hancock, of Etwall, called 999 himself at 04:26 to report his double murder, saying: "I have just stabbed them... there is blood everywhere".

Judge Nirmal Shant described it as a "brutal attack" which had "deprived two families of the people they loved".

Shared tea

The prosecution described how, after coming back from the pub, Hancock had told his mother he "felt like he wanted to kill" the pair.

He told her he knew he would be sentenced to 25 to 30 years for what he was about to do but still shared a cup of tea with her before leaving.

He took her emergency buzzer and landline phones so she could not call the police and then drove to Ms Hancock's house with two knives from his mother's kitchen.

Image source, Derbyshire Police
Image caption,
The court was told Hancock had found out about his wife's new relationship on 26 December

Once there he entered through the backdoor and attacked the pair in the bedroom.

He stabbed mother-of-three Ms Hancock 66 times and father-of-two Mr Griffiths 37 times.

The court heard how one paramedic described the scene as a "blood bath".

Image caption,
Helen Hancock and Martin Griffiths were found at her and Mr Hancock's former marital home in New Zealand Lane, Duffield

Officers, alerted by his mother after she found her mobile phone, found him outside the property covered in blood.

He told them: "I'm hardly going to deny it - look at me."

Prosecutor Michael Auty QC said: "There is no escaping these murders were premeditated, they were savage, the attack was merciless, there were elements of sadism and the intention was always... and only to kill.

"Perhaps, above all else, they were committed in the coldest of blood."

But Judge Shant concluded she "could not be sure" this was "sadistic or sexual" and would not be handing out a whole life term, although she accepted it was a "borderline" case.

She added: "No sentence I impose will seem adequate to [the victims' families] and nothing I do can fill the undoubted void that the deaths of Helen Hancock and Martin Griffiths have left."

'Precious jigsaw piece'

Ms Hancock, who had been using her maiden name Almey, worked as a PE teacher at Fountains High School in Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire.

In a statement read to the court her family described her as a "beautiful, vibrant and outgoing person who loved and lived life to the full".

Her sister added Mr Hancock's actions had left their children without either a mother or a father.

Mr Griffiths' family said his death was "like losing a precious piece of a jigsaw and so never being able to see the full picture again".

Image source, Helen Hancock
Image caption,
Helen Hancock and Martin Griffiths climbed Mount Snowdon together a few days before they both died

The case was referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) due to contact between Derbyshire Police and Ms Hancock in the period leading up to the murders.

An IOPC spokesperson said: "We are close to finalising our investigation and we will consider releasing our findings when all associated proceedings, including coronial, have been concluded."

They previously told the BBC the police contact related to "a number of domestic incidents over a period of time".

The court had heard Hancock was on police bail at the time of the murders after he allegedly threw something at his wife in October 2019, causing a laceration.

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