A “CALLOUS and manipulative” husband has been jailed for life for murdering his pregnant wife and probably dumping her body in the sea 20 years ago.
Andrew Griggs – who lives near Ringwood in Ringwood Road, St Leonards – was told at Canterbury Crown Court that he will serve a minimum of 20 years in prison.
Sentencing, Judge Robin Spencer suggested he had weighed down his wife’s remains and sunk them beneath the waves, saying: “In murdering your wife you destroyed the life of that unborn child as well.”
He also accused Griggs of also having “groomed” a 15-year-old girl and having sex with her at the time.
The judge noted that Debbie’s mother, who had never given up the search, had not lived to see justice done.
He concluded: “You have shown no remorse whatsoever. True remorse would have been shown only by a guilty plea and by disclosure of where you concealed the body.”
As reported in the A&T, Griggs was convicted by a jury on Monday of killing Debbie Griggs, who went missing without trace in May 1999 amid marital strife between the pair when they lived in Deal, Kent.
In the wake of the guilty verdict senior police chiefs appealed to Griggs to reveal the whereabouts of her remains.
“It is not too late to do the right thing,” said DCI Kaye Braybrook, of the Kent and Essex serious crime directorate.
Griggs, who is 57 and remarried to another woman called Deborah, was charged with murdering first wife Debbie in March. He had denied having anything to do with her disappearance.
Jurors at his trial heard Griggs and Debbie, who had three children, were experiencing problems in their marriage in the early part of 1999. The couple split and had sought legal advice over divorcing, amid her concerns he was seeing an underage 15-year-old girl.
However, by early May they reconciled and were living under the same roof. Then Debbie (34) went missing sometime around 5th May.
Kent Police launched a manhunt and found her car just over a mile away days later. In the vehicle forensics discovered blood with traces of her DNA and the boot lining had been removed.
In court the prosecution claimed Griggs murdered Debbie as he was concerned she would take their home and half the proceeds of the freezer business if they divorced.
He told a friend he “wished she was dead” and had closed the couple’s joint bank account. The 15-year-old – now a woman in her 30s – also appeared before the court and revealed she had been seeing him around the time of his ex-wife’s disappearance.
In his defence, Griggs claimed one evening in May 1999 Debbie had shouted at him before she stormed out. She did not return the next day and he said he phoned police to report her missing.
Griggs told the jury his ex-wife had suffered from post-natal depression after the birth of their three sons and started to show similar symptoms while pregnant with their fourth child.
DCI Braybrook added: “Andrew has proven himself to be a callous and manipulative individual who has gone to great lengths to destroy his wife’s reputation.
“For 20 years he has heartlessly carried on with his life while Debbie’s family and friends have struggled to come to terms with their loss, and having never had the chance to bury her body and say their proper goodbyes.
“Tragically Debbie’s mother died just weeks before Andrew was charged with her murder, without ever knowing what happened to her daughter.
“I hope Debbie’s surviving family can take some comfort from the outcome of this case, which is testament to the hard work and determination of cold case detectives who ensure justice catches up with serious criminals like Andrew Griggs regardless of the length of time that has passed.”