Published: 14:47, 03 October 2019
| Updated: 09:01, 04 October 2019
The sailor accused of murdering his pregnant wife was in the midst of a fling with a 15-year-old-girl, a jury heard.
Andrew Griggs, 57, also closed his and Debbie Griggs' joint bank account in the days leading up to her disappearance from her Deal home, it is alleged.
Griggs is accused of killing the mum-of-three 20 years ago. Her car - a white Peugeot 309 - was found abandoned days after her disappearance.
Prosecutor Duncan Atkinson QC explained Debbie’s blood was recovered from the vehicle.
Their relationship had become strained, sometimes violent, after Debbie suspected Griggs’ alleged affair with the girl, forcing the pair to split, the barrister added.
Mr Atkinson said: “Although the couple reconciled in April, Andrew Griggs continued to spend a lot of time with the 15-year-old.
“By then he had already taken steps to close the joint account for the business, and to replace it with a business account 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.”
In his opening speech, the barrister told how Debbie’s car was discovered in The Shrubbery, 1.3 miles from their home in Cross Road, Walmer.
“When (the car) was recovered, there was a smear of blood matching Debbie’s DNA along the nearside internal edge of the rear wing of the boot - the actual boot lining was missing,” he explained.
“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.
“She would, if alive, have required medical help given her pregnancy, ” he said.
Canterbury Crown Court today heard there has been no trace of Debbie since her disappearance between May 5-6.
There has been no reported activity on her bank account, no medical appointments or contact with government departments - the DWP for example.
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 argued Griggs was “the last person” to see Debbie and had “the most reason to wish her to disappear.”
The couple ran Griggs Freezer Centre in South Street Deal together at the time she disappeared.
On March 2 1999, days before Debbie vanished, Griggs set their joint business bank account up in just his name.
In a diary, she described him as “bombastic and bullying” and said that he “has a bad temper and if things do not go his way he gets very nasty,” though she said he had not actually hit her, the court heard.
Extracts from an affidavit, written by Debbie that year, were also read to the jury.
"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 said.
It went on to claim Griggs kneed her in the stomach while she was pregnant.
The court heard weeks before Debbie vanished, Griggs told a welder he "wished she was dead".
Griggs told Peter Monks, who ran Fabweld Services in Deal, he was suffering "money problems in relation to his wife".
"He said that she wanted to leave him and to take half the shop. He said he wished she was dead," Mr Atkinson added.
Wearing a green shirt and with his family in the public gallery, Griggs remained passive and silent throughout today's hearing at Canterbury Crown Court.
Ex-husband Griggs, now remarried and living in Ringwood Road, St Leonard's, Dorset, was charged with Debbie's murder on March 12 this year.
Prosecuted by Duncan Atkinson QC and Michael Bisgrove, the case is expected to last about five weeks.
Nicholas Loddenberg QC and George Heimler will defend.
Yesterday, Griggs was granted bail with the condition to remain at an address known to the court, from 8pm - 6am.
On March 14, Griggs appeared at Maidstone Crown Court via video link from Elmley Prison. He was bailed when his new wife posted a £70,000 surety.
His strict bail conditions included a tagged curfew from 6pm to 6am. These timings were changed to 8pm until 4am at a hearing on April 10 because Griggs runs a fishing business.
On Friday, May 17, he appeared at the Old Bailey via videolink from Bournemouth Crown Court where he entered a not guilty plea.
The trial continues.
More by this authorSean Axtell