A British businessman accused of killing his girlfriend in a five-star Paris hotel has gone on trial five years after her death, claiming he remembers nothing of what had happened.
Ian Griffin, 45, denies murdering his wealthy partner Kinga Legg in their room at the French capital’s famed Bristol hotel in 2009 before leaving a Do Not Disturb sign on their door and fleeing to Britain. He was eventually tracked down five days later, living in a tent in woodland in Cheshire, and was sent back to France to stand trial.
Yesterday Mr Griffin, who spent two years in a French prison before being released on an electronic tag last year, finally appeared at a court in Paris on crutches accompanied by his new partner. Ms Legg was a successful businesswoman whose tomato export company Vegex had grown out of a farmers’ cooperative in her native Poland.
Her relationship with Mr Griffin had reportedly been a stormy one and witnesses said they had seen the pair arguing at an upmarket restaurant in Paris, before the dispute continued at their £1,000-a-night suite at the hotel.
His lawyers said that Mr Griffin had “no recollection of what happened” to his partner who he said he was due to marry later in the year. She was found in a bath tub at the hotel covered in bruises after the alarm was raised by her worried family who had been unable to reach her. She had apparently been punched and hit with a hat stand. A post-mortem found high levels of alcohol in her blood. She had died from multiple injuries.
In his report, the investigating magistrate said that her body had been treated in such a violent way that it indicated a deliberate murder.
“He has no recollection of what happened. This loss of memory can be explained by a large consumption of alcohol combined with a period of coming off benzodiazepines – sleeping pills – of which he was a huge consumer,” Mr Griffin’s lawyer Francis Triboulet told Le Monde.
“Ian Griffin claims to have woken up beside his dead girlfriend. Not realising she was dead, he gave her a bath to try to warm her up.”
Ms Legg’s family allege that Mr Griffin – a businessman who ran gadget shops and tanning salons before he went bankrupt – made his loss of memory claim as a tactic to try to evade responsibility for killing the 36-year-old. Their lawyer, Guillaume Traynard, said “he was perfectly rational and lucid enough to organise his escape”.
After her death, Mr Griffin had returned to the couple’s rented mansion in Surrey, which police say was later found ransacked.
He then went to a marina where he was frustrated to find that work on his motorboat had not been completed.
He then headed to Cheshire and was found after officers were able to trace him through his card payments.Reuse content