A MAN man has gone on trial accused of killing his wife while she was pregnant with their fourth child and he was involved with a 15-year-old girl.
Andrew Griggs (57), who lives at St Leonards near Ringwood, was also concerned Debbie Griggs would take half of the proceeds of the freezer business they ran should they divorce, Canterbury Crown Court was told.
In the days before 34-year-old Debbie disappeared 20 years ago, Griggs said to a friend he “wished she was dead” and closed the couple’s joint bank account, prosecutor Duncan Atkinson QC added.
The defendant and Debbie ran Griggs Freezer Centre in Deal when she went missing from their home in Kent in early May 1999, the court was told.
Four days later her white Peugeot 306 was found abandoned just over a mile away.
The boot lining was missing, Mr Atkinson said, and blood containing her DNA was recovered from the vehicle by forensic examiners.
Debbie has not been seen or heard from since. Her body has never been found.
Outlining the prosecution case, Mr Atkinson told the court that in the weeks before her disappearance the couple’s relationship was strained and sometimes violent.
They had split because Debbie suspected he was having an affair with a 15-year-old girl, but reconciled in April of that year.
However, Mr Atkinson continued, Griggs continued to spend time with the teenage girl in question and had “already taken steps” to close the joint account for their business and replace it with one solely under his control.
“The last steps to open this new account occurred the day before Debbie Griggs disappeared, leaving their children under his sole custody,” he added.
“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,” he continued. “She would, if alive, have required medical help given her pregnancy.”
The court heard both the teenager and Griggs had denied being intimate, but a love note was found which she had written.
She later admitted to police she had been seeing Griggs.
Mr Atkinson said there had been “no trace” of Debbie since the day she went missing, with no reported activity on her bank account, medical appointments or contact with government departments.
Mr Atkinson added: “The evidence relating to her car, both the sighting of it, the condition of it and the science from it, all support the contention that her body had been disposed of and car dumped.”
The prosecutor said Griggs was “the last person” to see Debbie and had “the most reason to wish her to disappear”.
In police interview, the prosecutor added, Griggs said that at the time of their marital strife his wife had a “habit of going walkabouts”.
She had disappeared a number of times before coming home because she would get fed-up with looking after the children, Griggs claimed.
Mr Atkinson said Debbie kept a diary, in which she described Griggs as “bombastic and bullying”, with “a bad temper if things do not go his way”, although she said he had not actually hit her.
He also revealed both Debbie and Griggs sought “non-molestation orders” from a county court during their period of separation in early 1999.
During that process she had written an affidavit, and he read extracts of it to the court.
One entry stated: “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.”
It went on to claim Griggs kneed her in the stomach while she was pregnant.
The court heard weeks before Debbie vanished, Griggs told welder Peter Monks he “wished she was dead” and was suffering “money problems in relation to his wife”.
Debbie’s father, 81-year-old Brian Cameron, gave evidence and told the court his daughter absconding would be “out of character”.
He described an occasion when the couple had an argument at their business after Debbie requested money to feed the children and a commotion ensued, during which Griggs grabbed her and she tried to bite him.
After Debbie disappeared Griggs relocated to St Leonard’s and is now remarried.
Griggs was charged with Debbie’s murder on 12th March this year – days after Debbie’s mum, Patricia Cameron, died, the court heard.
A statement Patricia provided to police was read to the jury. It said she saw her daughter hours before she disappeared and Debbie seemed happy and did not give her any reason to feel concern.
Griggs denies murder.
The case, which is expected to last five weeks, continues.