Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Sailor guilty of murdering wife who has been missing since 1999

Andrew Griggs has been found guilty of killing his wife Debbie Griggs.

Andrew Griggs, 56, denied killing his pregnant wife Debbie Griggs in 1999 (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)
Andrew Griggs, 56, denied killing his pregnant wife Debbie Griggs in 1999 (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

By Michael Drummond, PA South East Correspondent

A sailor whose pregnant wife vanished 20 years ago has been convicted of her murder.

“Devoted” mother-of-three Debbie Griggs disappeared without a trace on May 5, 1999 and has never been seen since.

At the time of her disappearance she was pregnant with the couple’s fourth child.

Now Andrew Griggs, 57, has been found guilty following a trial at Canterbury Crown Court.

Following the verdict Ms Griggs’ family said they felt a sense of justice after “20 years of anguish, torment and heartache”.

Griggs will be sentenced at the same court on Wednesday.

He does not let me go out by myself. His needs come first. He tells me I am sick and mad in the head Debbie Griggs in an affidavit in 1999

Mr Justice Robin Spencer told him: “You know there is only one sentence for murder. Life imprisonment.”

Prosecutor Duncan Atkinson QC said the body of Debbie Griggs was disposed of and her car was found dumped streets away from her home in Deal, Kent.

He told the trial: “The prosecution case is that Debbie Griggs did not just up and leave her husband and children in the middle of the night, never to be seen or heard of again.

“She was a devoted mother who would not have just abandoned her children.”

The court heard that the disappearance followed suspicions that her husband was having a relationship with a 15-year-old girl.

Griggs, of Ringwood Road, Saint Leonards, Dorset, had denied murder and claimed to be asleep when his wife left home for the last time.

He denied ever being in a relationship with the 15-year-old, telling the police in the days after his wife’s disappearance that the girl was “just a mate”.

Mrs Griggs complained at the time that her husband had threatened to “get me sorted”, the trial heard.

In an affidavit she wrote in 1999, Mrs Griggs said: “Everything we have together is in fact his, and I am only allowed to enjoy anything that is a joint matrimonial asset by reason of being with him.

“He does not let me go out by myself. His needs come first.

“He tells me I am sick and mad in the head.”

Also in an affidavit from the time, Mrs Griggs said: “During the course of our marriage my husband was bombastic and bullying.

“He has threatened to get me sorted. I took that to mean he will do me harm or will arrange for some other to do me harm.”

Following the verdict, the judge praised jurors for their handling of the case.

He said: “I am sure that you will understand now why I said at the start of the trial that jury service may well be the most important public duty you will be called upon to perform.

“On behalf of the public who you represent, I wish to thank you for your jury service.”

Derek Cameron, Ms Griggs’ brother, read a statement outside court on behalf of Debbie’s family following the verdict.

He thanked the CPS and police for their efforts and slammed the “manipulative web of deceiet and lies” spun by the defendant.

He continued: “20 years. This is how long it has taken for this to come to justice.

“20 years of anguish, torment and heartache. 20 years of hurt, pain, despair and emotional turmoil.

“20 years without a daughter, sister and grandchildren and nephews. 20 years of lost communication and three young boys without their mother.

“Finally, 20 years have come to a conclusion, we can put this to bed.

“We will never forget Debbie, who was an amazing daughter, a remarkable sister, an extraordinary and committed, compassionate person, not only to her friends but to everyone.

“She was a passionate doting mother with unequivocal love for her children who meant the absolute world to her.

“She will be forever in our thoughts. This is an immense day for us, a long time in coming.

“For Debbie we are oh so sorry that this has taken so long, and for mum if you are listening, we actually finally got him.

“We would appeal to the defendant if he can see within his wisdom to perhaps telling us where Debbie’s body is so we can put the ultimate closure to this.”

PA

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph