A jealous headteacher who stabbed his estranged wife and her new boyfriend to death in a New Year’s Day bloodbath was a ‘coward’ and a ‘bully’ who abused her for years, friends have claimed.
Rhys Hancock, 40, killed Helen Almey, 39, and Martin Griffiths, 48, at the £400,000 detached property the formerly-married couple used to share in Duffield, Derbyshire.
Hancock discovered on Boxing Day that his wife had started a relationship with Mr Griffiths.
Ms Almey – who had walked out on Hancock just a few months earlier – was stabbed with such ferocity the knife’s handle went into her stomach during the New Year’s Day attack.
Mother-of-three Helen Almey (left), 39, was stabbed to death alongside her new partner Martin Griffiths (right) in the early hours of New Year’s Day as it emerged police were at the house days earlier
Rhys Hancock (pictured), 40, killed Ms Almey, 39, and Mr Griffiths, 48, at the £400,000 detached property the formerly-married couple used to share
Neighbours said Ms Almey had recently started a relationship after separating from Mr Hancock, who is the father of her children, aged nine, seven and four
Hancock – the former head teacher of a special education school in Nottingham – admitted killing the couple after calling 999 himself in the early hours of the morning.
A friend of Ms Almey told The Daily Telegraph: ‘Rhys came across as this caring type, who dedicated his life to kids with special needs, but the reality was very different. He was a bully and a coward.’
The friend – who did not wish to be named – said police and ambulances were called to the property during the couple’s rocky relationship.
Police are pictured during their investigations on Thursday January 2 in Duffield, Derbyshire
Estranged: Helen Almey was found dead at the home she once shared with her estranged headteacher husband, Rhys Hancock (pictured together)
Ms Almey was well-known and much loved in her village, where many said they were bereft for her children
When Ms Almey decided to end the marriage permanently, Hancock, ‘didn’t take it well’ and caused issues when she started another relationship.
Hancock and Ms Almey have three children aged aged nine, four and three together.
Another friend told The Mirror that PE teacher Ms Almey and company director Mr Griffiths ‘loved each other deeply’.
They added: ‘The way they looked at each other, talked to each other and laughed together.’
A family friend told The Sun that ‘Rhys was a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde character’ and ‘could be quite scary’.
They said: ‘He had some problems mentally and was getting help for them. We always felt uneasy around him, just his manner was funny.’
Today Hancock, of Etwall, Derbys, pleaded guilty at Derby Crown Court to two counts of murder via video link and was told he would be sentenced at a later date.
Ms Almey and Mr Griffiths were discovered in a pool of blood at the property just after 4am.
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
Police forensic officers at the property where a tent was erected in Duffield on January 1
Despite the best efforts of paramedics they were both pronounced dead at the scene
A court heard Hancock had travelled all the way to his former home after discovering on Boxing Day his wife had started a relationship with another man.
Ms Almey, who had walked out on Hancock just a few months earlier, was stabbed with such ferocity the knife’s handle went into her stomach.
Prosecutor Jeanette Stevenson said at an earlier hearing: ‘They had separated some time ago.
‘His mother called 999 and informed the police that he had gone back to his former home.
Asked about the tragedy Mrs Griffiths, 40, (pictured with Mr Griffiths) said: ‘Absolutely devastated for me, my children and all involved’
‘He found out on Boxing Day that his wife was seeing another man.
‘He left his mothers address, where his children were also staying, with two knives. His mother said he felt like killing them.
‘The police tried to contact Mrs Hancock but they could only reach her answerphone.
‘Police received another 999 call from Mr Hancock saying he had murdered his wife and that the children were safe at his mother’s house.
‘Officers at the scene found Mr Griffiths dead when they arrived. They tried to resuscitate Mrs Hancock for 15 minutes before stopping.
A cordon in place at the property (pictured) where Ms Almey and her new partner were murdered
Police combing the street for evidence at the scene in Duffield, Derbyshire, on January 2
‘Mr Hancock was arrested at the scene and then questioned about the murders and before being charged.’
Devastated family members previously paid tribute to ‘beautiful and bubbly’ Ms Almey and adventure-mad Mr Griffiths.
Ms Almey’s family said in a statement: ‘The family are devastated at the loss of Helen who was a lovely, beautiful, friendly, bubbly and social person.
‘We would like to thank people for allowing us privacy at this most difficult of times.’
Officers were on ladders inspecting the roof and pulling up drains in Duffield as they look for clues and perhaps a murder weapon
Relatives of Mr Griffiths, who lived in Derby, added: ‘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. We would also like to ask that people respect our privacy and allow us space to grieve as we attempt to come to terms with his death.’
He was also a keen cyclist, snooker player, cricket fan and fell runner and is believed to have separated from wife Claire earlier this year.
Neighbours had previously spoke of how Ms Almey had been ‘finally getting her life back together’ after kicking her husband out for good.
They also told how they heard screams in the street of ‘They’re dead. They’re dead. What have you f******g done?’ at around 3am on New Year’s Day.
Derbyshire Police previously said the force had referred itself to the police watchdog over contact they had with Ms Almey prior to her death.
It is understood officers were called to her semi-detached home over the Christmas period after she rang 999 for help.
Chief Superintendent Hayley Barnett, of Derbyshire Police, said: ‘The thoughts of everyone at Derbyshire Constabulary are with the family and friends of Mrs Hancock and Mr Griffiths.
‘Our thoughts are also with the Duffield community, which is understandably shocked by this incident.’