Cold-hearted murderer Andrew Griggs enjoyed family get-togethers in the back garden with his second wife while the pregnant body of his first wife lay secretly buried in the earth below.
Debbie Griggs, 34, was four months pregnant when she mysteriously disappeared from her home in Deal, Kent, in the middle of the night on May 5, 1999.
Although keen sailor Griggs, 60, was eventually convicted of his first wife’s murder in 2019 without a body being discovered, the grisly truth about her whereabouts only emerged this week when the spacious back garden of Griggs’ home 175 miles away in Dorset was excavated by police.
Now MailOnline can reveal that Griggs’ lookalike second wife – also called Debbie – proudly posted frequent photos of their back garden online, unaware of the gruesome truth.
The carefree family photos at their property in St Leonards assume a macabre new significance with the knowledge that businessman Griggs — whether tossing steaks on the deck barbecue or sipping Champagne with Debbie #2 — knew exactly where the body was buried the whole time.
Second wife Debbie, 58, was clearly convinced of her husband’s innocence even after he had been arrested and charged with the murder. Even after his conviction in 2019 she posted a photo of them on a cruise, adding: ‘God I love this man so much’, adding a heart emoji
In 2013 she posted a series of photos of the huge garden, showing the decking and a stone-built garden pond, along with before-and-after photos of their refurbished kitchen.
In 2015 she sent out a Facebook post about her husband’s stolen iPad, appealing for the thieves to return it because of ‘irreplaceable photos’, adding ‘we are not interested in involving the police.’
Debbie Griggs with Andrew Griggs on their wedding day arriving to the tie the knot and get married as husband and wife
Griggs went on to find a new Debbie Griggs and they are pictured here enjoying an embrace, not knowing he was a murderer
Andrew Griggs was jailed for her murder on October 19, 2019.
The discovery came after police excavated the back garden of the property Griggs had moved to in July 2001, after an initial investigation into the pregnant mother’s whereabouts had concluded.
The move to dig up the garden in St Leonards came following a tip-off two weeks ago that the first Mrs Griggs’ remains may be buried there.
Human remains, including teeth fragments, had been found during the search and a post-mortem examination on October 14 confirmed that they were from Mrs Griggs, the Kent Police said.
Detective Chief Inspector Neil Kimber, from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: ‘It is now more than 20 years since Debbie Griggs was murdered by her husband but we have never given up hope of one day finding her remains and giving her loved ones some closure.
‘Andrew Griggs denied being responsible for his wife’s disappearance but this discovery is further proof that he was lying all along, causing even greater anguish for everyone who knew and loved Debbie.
‘Whilst they continue to mourn her tragic loss to this day, I hope they can take some comfort in the knowledge that she can now be laid to rest.’
Tests will be carried out to establish the mother-of-three’s cause of death and detectives will investigate how she came to be buried at the house.
The garden where Debbie Griggs’ remains were uncovered after police dug it up following a tip off on what had happened
Debbie Griggs was four months pregnant when she disappeared from her Deal home on May 5, 1999, with blood found in car
Murdered Debbie Griggs’ remains were found buried in the garden of her killer husband’s home in picturesque St Leonards
Murderer Andrew Griggs with Debbie Griggs #2 holding up a glass of alcohol as they celebrate an unknown occasion
Griggs, 59 and a sailor, was jailed for life with a minimum term of 20 years after he was found guilty of his wife’s 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.
The killer father had moved to the property in July 2001, following the conclusion of the initial investigation into his wife’s whereabouts.
He denied being responsible for her disappearance but was found guilty of murder and jailed for life in October 2019 after a review by cold case detectives from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate.
During his court hearing, Mrs Griggs’ killer husband had tried to blame post-natal depression, claiming the auxiliary nurse had walked out on him and their children she adored, even though she was not suffering from the condition at the time.
In reality the controlling 57-year-old businessman had been having an affair with a 15-year-old girl and had told friends he wished his wife was dead.
At the time, nobody knew where Mrs Griggs remains were. Griggs has never said where the body was – and police never found any forensic material to prove he killed her or that she was dead.
But during Griggs’ sentencing for murder, a judge said he suspected that Griggs, who was a fisherman, had dumped her body at sea in the English Channel. =
Andrew Griggs (left, on October 2, 2019) had claimed his wife Debbie (right) had walked out on him and their children, even though she was not suffering from post-natal depression at the time
Andrew Griggs was found guilty at Canterbury Crown Court in October 2019 of the murder of his pregnant wife, Debbie, who disappeared in May 1999 (Kent Police/PA)
Police never found any trace of Mrs Griggs apart from a smear of blood in her car (pictured) found abandoned a mile away from her home. Now her body has been found in a home in Dorset
Sentencing Griggs, Mr Justice Robin Spencer said: ‘Her body has never been found, only you know how you killed her and where you disposed of her body.
‘You told lie after lie in the witness box, just as you did at the time of Debbie’s disappearance.
‘In murdering your wife you destroyed the life of that unborn child as well. I strongly suspect that you dumped her body at sea.
‘You knew that stretch of coast like the back of your hand. It would not have been difficult to weigh her body down so that it sank.’
The judge said the length of time Mrs Grigg’s body has been concealed for – 20 years – and the fact that Griggs has still not revealed its location, was an aggravating factor in sentencing.
‘You robbed the mother of her children and her family of the very thing you have enjoyed over those 20 years.’
Griggs was jailed for a minimum term of 20 years.
During his court case, a jury heard how only a smear of blood was found in Mrs Griggs’ car, that was found abandoned a mile away from her home with the boot lining and carpet conspicuously missing.
A short time after she vanished, Griggs took his three sons to Dorset where he
started a new life, marrying for a second time and starting a model ship business.
In an extraordinary case, a diary Mrs Griggs kept before her disappearance turned out to be the key piece of evidence against him.
His wife wrote: ‘During the course of our marriage my husband was bombastic and bullying.
Mrs Griggs was praised by a judge in court today who said ‘caring was her very nature’
‘You told lie after lie’: Sentencing remarks from the judge in full
Mr Justice Robin Spencer said: ‘Her body has never been found. Only you know how you killed her and where you hid her body.
‘You told lie after lie in the witness box just as you did after her disappearance and just as you have for the last 20 years.
‘She was the adored and adoring mother of three little boys. They were her life, her pride and joy. She never would have left them of her own free will.
‘In murdering Debbie you destroyed the life of your unborn child as well.
‘She was a generous and supportive sister and friend. She worked as an auxiliary nurse and worked in a care home. Caring was her very nature.
‘You may well have come to the conclusion some time before that Wednesday night that you wanted to be rid of your wife once and for all.
‘Only you know what took place that night in the house. Only you know how you killed Debbie and disposed of her body. I strongly suspect you dumped her body at sea.
‘As an experienced sailor and deep sea fisherman you knew that stretch of coast like the back of your hand. It would not have been difficult to weigh her body down so it sank.
‘That morning you set about stringing the story she walked out on you. Walking out for good was the very last thing Debbie would ever have done.
‘It was a huge sadness Debbie’s mother is not alive to see you brought to justice.
‘Debbie’s family never had the opportunity to properly grieve. They have had no knowledge how or why she died.
‘There was in my judgement a degree of premeditation.’
‘You murdered your wife in the family home where she was entitled to feel safe at a time your young children were asleep in the house.
‘In your lying cover story you sought from the start to blacken Debbie’s name, suggesting she would have been prepared to desert her children and her family, that she had been unfaithful and suffered with mental health issues.
‘It is to your credit that your sons have grown to be fine young men that Debbie would be proud of.
‘But in reality you robbed the mother and her family of the very thing you have enjoyed over the last 20 years.
‘You have shown no remorse whatsoever.
‘True remorse would have been shown by a guilty plea and disclosure of where you hid the body.’
‘Your motive for killing your wife was in part driven by your frustration that she would claim half of your business if there was a divorce.’
‘He has threatened to get me sorted. I took that to mean he will do me harm or will arrange for some other to do me harm.’
She described an incident in which her husband kneed her in the stomach while she was pregnant.
She said: ‘Everything we have together is in fact his, and I am only allowed to enjoy anything that is a joint matrimonial asset by reason of being with him.
‘He does not let me go out by myself. His needs come first. He tells me I am sick and mad in the head.’
Mrs Griggs’s diary revealed her concern about how he was spending more time with the girl, who she confronted just days before she vanished, accusing her of sleeping with her husband.
But when Griggs took the stand, he said his wife had been suffering with post-natal depression and was plagued by ‘dark moods’ which left her suicidal.
He said Mrs Griggs said on more than one occasion: ‘I might as well kill myself.’
But although she had suffered from depression following her first two pregnancies, she had recovered by the time of her fourth pregnancy and friends said she was happy and well at the time of her disappearance.
Griggs obtained legal advice about his wife being entitled to half of their business if they divorced.
Then just three days before she disappeared, he set up a new account for their business in his sole name.
Griggs showed no emotion as he was convicted.
Detective Chief Inspector Kaye Braybrook of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate appealed to him following his conviction to reveal where he had hidden her body: ‘Debbie Griggs was a loving mother of three young sons with a fourth child on the way.
‘The jury heard from a number of witnesses who all agreed she would have never abandoned them, and was not the depressed, unstable and violent person Andrew Griggs has gone to great lengths to paint her as.
‘While Debbie’s body has never been found, we are certain she died at the hands of her husband.
‘He has proven himself to be a callous and manipulative individual who has gone to great lengths to destroy his wife’s reputation.
‘For 20 years he has heartlessly carried on with his life while Debbie’s family and friends have struggled to come to terms with their loss, and have never had the chance to bury her body and say their proper goodbyes.
‘Tragically Debbie’s mother died just weeks before Andrew was charged with her murder, without ever knowing what happened to her daughter.
‘Only Andrew knows how he killed Debbie and what he did with her body. I appeal to him to have the courage to speak up and enable those who continue to grieve her loss to have some form of closure. It is not too late for him to do the right thing.’
Derek Cameron, Mrs Griggs’s brother, read a statement outside court on behalf of the family after the ‘kind and caring’ mother’s killed was jailed in 2019.
He slammed the ‘manipulative web of deceit and lies’ spun by Griggs, saying: ‘Twenty years. This is how long it has taken for this to come to justice. Twenty years of anguish, torment and heartache. Twenty years of hurt, pain, despair and emotional turmoil.
‘Twenty years without a daughter, sister and grandchildren and nephews. Twenty years of lost communication and three young boys without their mother.
‘Finally, 20 years have come to a conclusion, we can put this to bed. We will never forget Debbie, who was an amazing daughter, a remarkable sister, an extraordinary and committed, compassionate person, not only to her friends but to everyone.
‘She was a passionate doting mother with unequivocal love for her children who meant the absolute world to her. For Debbie we are oh so sorry that this has taken so long, and for mum if you are listening, we actually finally got him.
‘We would appeal to the defendant if he can see within his wisdom to perhaps telling us where Debbie’s body is so we can put the ultimate closure to this.’
Griggs’ second wife was contacted by MailOnline.
It’s believed Andrew Griggs moved the remains 175 from Kent to Dorset when he moved house.
Disturbingly, the couple’s three sons grew up convinced their father was innocent – and unaware their mothers’s remains were under the very grass they played on.
Andrew Griggs’ mother Pamela Griggs, 86, told The Sun that Debbie’s children Jeremy, 29, Jake, 27, and Luke, 25, would often run around in the garden where their mum’s remains were found.
Speaking at her home just a few miles away from the house in St Leonard’s, she said: ‘ I actually bought the house with my late husband.
‘Andrew and the three boys moved in with us after she went missing. I helped bring them up.
‘They used to play in the garden and do all the things young boys do.
‘We had no idea what had happened to their mother just that she had gone off.
‘We lived there with them for eight years before we moved out and bought a bungalow but we visited Andrew, his new wife and the boys regularly.’
Mrs Griggs said that she had been told about human remains being found in the garden last Friday by a relative. She said: ‘I’m in shock, I just don’t know what to think. My head just won’t take it in.
‘I can’t put two and two together.’