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Man accused of killing wife who vanished claims she had 'gone walkabouts'

A sailor accused of murdering and dumping his pregnant wife's body told police she had "gone walkabouts".

Andrew Griggs is alleged to have killed mother-of-three Debbie Griggs 20-years-ago, after she vanished without trace from her Deal home.

Andrew Griggs
Andrew Griggs

But the 57-year-old told officers his wife was "in the habit of going walkabouts" when he was arrested following her disappearance in May 1999.

Debbie's purse, containing £120, bank cards and personal effects were left behind at their property, Canterbury Crown Court heard.

“He insisted Debbie was in the habit of going 'walkabouts' and she would get fed up with caring for their children.

“He estimated that she had done this 30-40 times,” prosecutor Duncan Atkinson QC said.

But the barrister called Debbie a "devoted mum" and said walking-out on the family was "out of character".

Debbie Griggs with children, Jeremy, Jake and baby Luke
Debbie Griggs with children, Jeremy, Jake and baby Luke

There has been no trace of the woman despite international search efforts and various media appeals meaning Griggs killed her, said Mr Atkinson QC.

He said their relationship "had been going through difficulties" when Debbie suspected Griggs was having a relationship with the 15-year-old girl, at the time she disappeared.

Both denied the relationship initially, however, a love note surfaced at the Deal Freezer Center in May 2001, reportedly from the teenager, after Griggs sold the business.

Discovered by the new owners, it referenced intimate and sexual details, prompting the girl to admit to police she had been seeing Griggs.

Reading an exerpt Mr Atkinson QC said: “I know this letter sounds stupid but I really hope this letter means something to you.

“If anything happens between us I would just want to curl up and die.”

The trial is taking place at Canterbury Crown Court
The trial is taking place at Canterbury Crown Court

Mr Atkinson told the court: “It was a reason why he may have wanted to be rid of her, it is certainly something about which he has repeatedly and blatantly lied.”

The jury heard Griggs, who was the last person to see his wife alive and well, referred to Debbie in the past tense just over a week after she disappeared.

A dentist manager was left with "a cold feeling" after asking Griggs for Debbie's date of birth, the jury heard.

According to Mr Atkinson QC, Griggs replied: “Her date of birth was 10.12.64.”

"His use of the past tense, a week after he had reported her as having left him is not without significance," he told the jury.

In June that year, Griggs would relocate to Bournemouth on the southern coast with the three children.

Police enquiries, searches and media appeals would continue.

Debbie's white Peugeot 309 was found abandoned in The Shrubbery, 1.3 miles from their home in Cross Road, Walmer days after her disappearance.

Her blood was recovered from the vehicle and the boot lining was missing, the court heard.

There been no reported activity on her bank account, medical appointments, or contact with government departments - the DWP for example.

Mr Atkinson QC said the couple ran Griggs Freezer Centre in South Street Deal together.

But days before Debbie vanished, Griggs changed their joint business bank account up so it was just under his name.

The trial, expected to last about five weeks, has yet to hear from defence barrister Nicholas Lobbenberg QC.

Griggs, of St Leonards in Dorset, was granted bail with the condition to remain at an address known to the court, from 8pm - 6am.

The trial continues.

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