Man jailed for murdering wife 20 years ago loses bid to overturn conviction

·2-min read
Andrew Griggs was convicted in 2019 of the murder of his pregnant wife Debbie, who vanished in 1999 (handout/PA) (PA Media)
Andrew Griggs was convicted in 2019 of the murder of his pregnant wife Debbie, who vanished in 1999 (handout/PA) (PA Media)

A sailor who was jailed for murdering his pregnant wife more than 20 years ago has lost a bid to overturn his conviction.

Mother-of-three Debbie Griggs disappeared aged 34 from the family home in Deal, Kent, on May 5, 1999 and has not been seen since.

Her husband Andrew Griggs, 59, was jailed for life with a minimum term of 20 years after he was found guilty of her murder following a trial at Canterbury Crown Court in October 2019.

Prosecutors had argued he was the person with “the most reason” to wish Mrs Griggs to disappear amid suspicions of him having an affair with a 15-year-old girl, as well as for business reasons.

At a Court of Appeal hearing on Thursday, Michael Magarian QC, for Griggs, argued the murder conviction was “unsafe” and there were at least six grounds for appeal.

Debbie Griggs disappeared in 1999 while pregnant (Kent Police/PA) (PA Media)
Debbie Griggs disappeared in 1999 while pregnant (Kent Police/PA) (PA Media)

Mr Magarian said Mr Justice Spencer should not have allowed evidence relating to allegations of Griggs’s sexual relationship with the teenage girl to be presented at the trial.

He argued that admission of such evidence caused prejudice against Griggs when it came to the jury deliberating the charge of murder.

“The fact that a man is being unfaithful to his wife does not automatically give grounds that he had a motive to kill her,” he said.

“That’s an unfair and unreasonable chain of reasoning.”

Mr Magarian later added that Griggs “was having to field a rape allegation in the middle of a murder trial”.

He said the judge did not give sufficient warning to the jury of the prejudice this could cause against Griggs, saying: “It called for a serious judicial directive and that did not occur.”

Andrew Griggs pictured leaving Canterbury Crown during his murder trial (PA) (PA Archive)
Andrew Griggs pictured leaving Canterbury Crown during his murder trial (PA) (PA Archive)

Elsewhere, Mr Magarian argued the prosecution’s case “did not amount to much” and predominantly consisted of circumstantial evidence, all of which was known to prosecutors in 2003 when they had originally ruled there was “no realistic prospect of conviction”.

However, judges dismissed all the arguments and denied Griggs the opportunity to overturn his conviction.

On there being any grounds for appeal, Mr Justice Holroyde said: “We are satisfied there are not.

“An appeal would be bound to fail.”

Mr Justice Holroyde argued the evidence relating to the alleged affair was of “obvious and unmistakable relevance” to the murder charge as it provided context to the disintegration of the Griggs’ marital relationship.

In terms of the evidence being prejudicial to the jury and the judge’s direction to that effect, he said: “In our view, it was appropriate and sufficient.”

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