A headteacher has admitted murdering his estranged wife and her new partner in a horrific New Year’s Day stabbing.
Rhys Hancock, the 40-year-old husband of Helen Hancock, admitted killing his wife and Martin Griffiths this morning at Derby Crown Court.
Mrs Hancock, 39, was found dead alongside the 48-year-old company director at a property in the upmarket village of Duffield just months after she walked out on her husband.
Derbyshire Police confirmed that it had referred itself to Britain’s police watchdog the IOPC in the wake of the deaths ‘due to contact between Mrs Hancock and officers prior to the incident’.
Victim: Mother-of-three Helen Hancock (nee Almey, pictured), 39, was stabbed to death alongside her new partner Martin Griffiths in the early hours of New Year’s Day as it emerged police were at the house days earlier
Rhys Hancock (pictured), the 39-year-old husband of Helen Hancock, will appear at Southern Derbyshire Magistrates Court on Friday morning for the double murder of his wife and Martin Griffiths
Derbyshire Police confirmed that it had referred itself to Britain’s police watchdog the IOPC in the wake of the deaths ‘due to contact between Mrs Hancock and officers prior to the incident’ – police are pictured during their investigations on Thursday January 2 in Duffield, Derbyshire
Mrs Hancock called officers days before she died after being threatened at the property she had once shared with Hancock, the father of her three children all aged under nine.
The new couple’s grieving families had paid tribute to Mrs Hancock – who had reverted to her maiden name of Almey on social media – and father-of-two Mr Griffiths after they were murdered while seeing in 2020 together.
Mrs Hancock’s family said: ‘The family are devastated at the loss of Helen who was a lovely, beautiful, friendly, bubbly and social person’.
While Mr Griffiths’s loved-ones said: ‘Martin was a lovely dad, husband, son, brother and uncle, who had a passion for adventure, running and a love of animals.
‘He enjoyed travelling the world, mountain climbing and spending time with his two children. He will be greatly missed’.
Estranged: Helen Hancock (nee Almey) was found dead at the home she once shared with her estranged headteacher husband, Rhys Hancock (pictured together)
Hours after the tragedy Claire Griffiths (right) changed her cover photo on Facebook to a picture of her with her estranged husband in happier times. They are believed to have separated in 2019
Asked about the tragedy Mrs Griffiths, 40, said today: ‘Absolutely devastated for me, my children and all involved
Investigation: A double murder probe underway in Duffield after police had been called to the scene at 4am
Mr Griffiths was a former director of a marketing company and described himself on social media as ‘dad and best friend to two beautiful children’.
Facebook pictures show him enjoying mountaineering trips with friends and family, which he scaled to raise money for charity.
He was also a keen cyclist, snooker player, cricket fan and fell runner and is believed to have separated from wife Claire in 2019.
Hours after the tragedy Mrs Griffiths changed her cover photo on Facebook to a picture of her with her estranged husband and their son Oliver and daughter Lily May, 13, in happier times.
Asked about the tragedy Mrs Griffiths, 40, said today: ‘Absolutely devastated for me, my children and all involved.
‘None of the reports have said that the male victim was still married, although separated and that he has left two children.’
A cordon in place at the property (pictured) where Helen and her new partner were murdered
Police combing the street for evidence that will link the killer to the scene where a new couple died on New Year’s Day
It is believed Mr Griffiths met Mrs Hancock through a local running club.
One recommendation on his LinkedIn page describes him as: ‘foremost a genuinely great guy, personable, approachable and professional.’
It adds: ‘Beyond Martin’s professional capability he is an inspiring guy, willing to take on significant challenges in the pursuit of achievement this speaks volumes about his character and integrity.’
Officers were on ladders inspecting the roof and pulling up drains in Duffield as they look for clues and perhaps a murder weapon
Helen, who started using her maiden name Almey again, split with her husband Rhys in 2019
Helen was well-known and much loved in her village, where many said they were bereft for her children
Family: Neighbours said Mrs Hancock (nee Almey) had recently started a relationship after separating from Mr Hancock, who is the father of her children, aged nine, seven and four
Forensic officers at the scene in Duffield, Derbyshire after two people were found dead