Murder suspect may have fled by boat

Polish millionairess's boyfriend was at a boatyard buying navigation equipment

The fugitive boyfriend of a Polish millionairess who was found murdered may have tried to escape by boat. It emerged yesterday that he had recently bought a satellite navigation system and charts of European waters.

Ian Griffin, 39, has been the focus of an international manhunt since Tuesday, when the body of his Polish girlfriend Kinga Legg was found in the room they had shared in a Paris hotel. He drove off in his black Porsche 911, just hours before staff found Ms Legg's battered corpse.

The next day he turned up at the Surrey boatyard where the couple kept a high-powered speedboat. An "agitated" Mr Griffin asked if work on the £25,000 boat had been completed. When he was told it had not, he bought the navigation equipment and left.

Surrey officers believe Mr Griffin may also have returned to the luxury rented home he shared with Ms Legg in Oxshott, Surrey, as it appeared to have been "turned over".

Last night French police said the matter had been handed to an investigating prosecutor. The hunt for Mr Griffin is now firmly fixed on Britain.

Ms Legg, 36, whose three-year relationship with the Englishman was said to have been turbulent, checked into the £1,000-a-night Le Bristol hotel on Monday and was joined hours later by Mr Griffin, with whom she shared several bottles of champagne. The following day he left without checking out. Cleaners, wary that a "do not disturb" sign had been in place for hours and no response was coming from the room, entered to find a scene of devastation and smashed furniture. Ms Legg's naked body was slumped in the bath and blood was smeared across the walls.

French police said they believed Mr Griffin was living off his wealthy girlfriend, who ran her family company Vegex, which is based in Surrey and the village of Opatowek, Poland. Ms Legg grew up there, and worked for the family's tomato-growing cooperative.

In 1995, she met Peter Legg, a civil servant working at Preston Town Hall, on a town twinning committee visit. Six months later she came to Britain and they were married. Ms Legg took an MA in marketing and built trade links in Britain for Vegex. After two years, the couple separated and she moved to Cheshire where she lived with a local millionaire, building up her business empire.

By the time she met Mr Griffin in 2005, she had taken over the business and set up international export links, supplying major outlets across Europe including supermarkets and chain restaurants in the UK.

Mr Griffin, known for his love of fast cars, ran a string of companies across north-west England, including tanning salons and gadget shops, but he was declared bankrupt in 2006.

Yesterday a picture emerged of Mr Griffin as a "ladies' man" who once worked as a male model and enjoyed a flamboyant lifestyle of champagne and celebrity events. On the Friends Reunited social networking site he had described his "incredible successes" and berated former school friends for what he perceived as a lack of achievements. However, many of his businesses collapsed and at one point he was arrested in Malaga accused of fraud before being released without charge.

But friends and family told reporters that he was a "lovely bloke", who had been prone to bouts of depression and could be a suicide risk such times.

Cheshire Police would not say where his Porsche was found on Saturday but some reports suggested that it was near his parents' home in Houghton Green, near Warrington.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'