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Published: 17:49, 17 October 2019
| Updated: 17:50, 17 October 2019
A husband accused of murdering his wife 20 years ago has told a court that when she disappeared, she was depressed and had spoken in the past of suicide.
Andrew Griggs, 57, said his wife Debbie suffered from post-natal depression following the birth of their three sons and was acting the same just before she went missing from her home in Deal, pregnant with their fourth child.
“I believed she was under the doctor because she told me she wasn’t taking her tablets for depression because she didn’t need them,” Griggs told Canterbury Crown Court.
He said his wife loved their children but had said more than once in the past that “I might as well kill myself.”
In January 1999 Debbie told him she was pregnant.
“She was very down with mood swings and it was hard to deal with,” Griggs said. “I did say to her that the baby wasn’t mine but it was an off the cuff remark because I was fed up of being accused of affairs all the time and we hadn’t been sleeping together that much.”
He said he had consulted a solicitor about divorce in 1999 after Debbie had locked him out of the house, had hit him and bitten his hand when he was in their shop and had hit him and bitten him again on the elbow when he was in the shop.
She had thrown all his clothes through the shop front door in bin bags.
He put divorce proceedings on hold because he did not want it to happen and they had had a reconciliation.
“I still loved Debbie and the children,” Griggs said. “I did not want to lose her.”
Griggs said problems in their marriage surfaced after the birth of their first child when his wife suffered post-natal depression.
“She changed from a fun, bubbly and loud person into someone who was withdrawn, quiet, very down and who no longer took care of herself,” he said.
“The relationship between us was good but I couldn’t understand these problems and it was not easy to live with her.”
Griggs told the court that his wife accused him of having affairs with people at his sailing club and customers in the shop. “Anyone I ever spoke to,” he said.
“If we had arguments I would just walk away but Debbie would go off in her car and just drive around. I did not know at the time where she went to and I would call it going walkabout.”
He told the court that a new business bank account was set up in his name only after Debbie took the business cheque books and this caused problems paying bills.
He said his parents ran the business and it was their and the accountant’s idea to do this. “My role was to do as I was told and sign
the documents,” he said.
After the reconciliation he moved back home and on the evening of his wife’s disappearance he was watching television with one of his sons and fell asleep.
“The next thing Debbie was shouting at me,” Griggs told the court. “She said it’s ok for you to fall asleep. Let’s see how you cope with them 24 hours a day. And then she walked out.
“I thought she’d gone off to cool down again. It had often happened in the past.”
The next day when she was not there he went out looking for her and rang around her friends and family. That evening, just before 10pm, he rang the police and reported her missing.
Asked by his barrister: “Did you murder Debbie Griggs?” Griggs replied: “No, I didn’t.”
Read more from the trial:
Mother feared she was in danger from husband following threats
Cross examined by Duncan Atkinson QC, prosecuting, Griggs denied trying to blacken his wife’s name because he wanted to divorce her and have custody of his sons.
He denied trying to portray her as a bad mother by telling the police that he was concerned about her and his children by insinuating that his wife had injured his eldest son.
“The police wanted to know about the state of her mind,” Griggs said.
He denied that Debbie had “gone walkabout” only once before, having told the police it was 30 or 40 times.
“Was this something to blacken Debbie’s name and make the police not look at you,” Mr Atkinson said.
Griggs said no.
The trial continues.
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More by this authorSian Napier