Kent

Andrew Griggs jailed for murdering pregnant wife Debbie

Andrew Griggs Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Andrew Griggs was sentenced at Canterbury Crown Court

A man who murdered his pregnant wife and disposed of her body in 1999 has been jailed for a minimum of 20 years.

The body of Debbie Griggs, who disappeared without trace from the family home in Deal, Kent, on 5 May 1999, has never been found.

Sentencing Andrew Griggs at Canterbury Crown Court, His Honour Justice Robin Spencer said it was likely the keen sailor had "dumped her body at sea".

Griggs, 57, of St Leonards in Dorset, was convicted on Monday.

Jurors rejected his claims that his wife, then aged 34, had walked out on him and their three young sons.

"Only you know how you killed her and where you disposed of her body," Justice Spencer told Griggs.

He said Griggs knew the coast "like the back of his hand," adding: "It would not have been difficult to weigh her body down so that it sank without trace."

Image caption Debbie Griggs was devoted to her three sons, the jury heard

Justice Spencer said Mrs Griggs was "an adored and adoring mother of three little boys," adding: "They were her life, she would never have left them."

He told Griggs by murdering his wife, who was four and half months pregnant, he had also "killed her unborn child".

Mrs Griggs's mother died of a "broken heart" in January just weeks before Griggs was charged, her father told the court.

"I know she longed to know where Debbie was," Brian Cameron said.

The court heard Mrs Griggs believed her husband was having a "sexual relationship" with a 15-year-old girl and would have been entitled to half of the family's fishmonger business if they divorced.

Prosecutor Duncan Atkinson QC said: "The murder was committed to avoid the consequences, both in terms of the financial impact that divorce would otherwise have had, but also in the context of the illegal relationship that the defendant was engaged in at the time."

He told jurors Griggs had attacked his wife at their home in Cross Road "at a time where the children were asleep upstairs".

Her car was found 1.3 miles away on 12 May with a smear of her blood discovered in the boot.

Image copyright Kent Police
Image caption The boot lining of Mrs Griggs's car had been removed, police found

The length of time Griggs maintained his lie and concealed the location of his wife's body were aggravating factors, the judge said.

"You robbed the mother of her children and her family of the very thing you have enjoyed over those 20 years," he said.

Griggs had been a prime suspect ever since police abandoned a missing persons inquiry and launched a murder investigation in late-May 1999.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) looked at the evidence in 2003 and decided there was "no realistic prospect of conviction".

But in 2018, cold case detectives reviewed the evidence against him and early this year the CPS authorised a murder charge.

Asked what had changed, prosecutors said while there was no new evidence the passage of time helped disprove the idea that Mrs Griggs was still alive or had taken her own life.

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