British man jailed for Paris murder

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Published: Saturday 6th December 2014 by The News Editor

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British businessman Ian Griffin has been jailed for 20 years for murdering his millionairess girlfriend in a five-star Paris hotel suite.

He stared straight ahead as his sentence for killing Kinga Legg, whose battered body was found in their £1,000-a-night room at the Bristol Hotel in May 2009, was announced at a court in the French capital.

Earlier Griffin, 45, broke down as he told the court of his regret at Ms Legg’s death.

He had denied murder, claiming he remembered nothing of the night of his then-partner’s death, but a jury at the Cour D’Assises in the French capital ruled last night, after five hours of deliberations, that he voluntarily killed her.

His current girlfriend Tracy Baker wept as the sentence was delivered.

After the sentence, Ms Legg’s brother Marek Wolf said: “I need to say it was the correct verdict and decision. I’m glad that after three years the trial is finished but nobody can give me or my parents my sister back.”

Ms Baker declined to comment as she left the court, which sat well into the evening to reach a decision.

Presiding judge Didier Safar said the jury decided that Griffin should not benefit from a law saying that a defendant is not liable for his acts because of a “psychological disorder”.

However, they did say his level of responsibly was “changed” by his mental state.

Earlier Griffin struggled to contain his emotions as he told of his regret at Ms Legg’s death.

Asked to address the jury, he spoke incoherently and at times in a barely audible voice. “The most important thing is to apologise to her parents,” he said.

“To think I could do that to the girl I loved, that’s killing me. I have been through every regret, every emotion. I would give my life for hers tomorrow.”

Griffin sat hunched in the front bench as prosecution and defence lawyers made their final speeches after a five-day trial.

Yesterday’s events were the culmination of a protracted legal process that began more than five years ago when a European arrest warrant was issued for Griffin after a maid found the battered body of Polish-born Ms Legg, 36, in the bathroom.

The trial heard that Ms Legg died of internal bleeding and was found in the blood-spattered room in with multiple injures and more than 100 marks on her body.

Griffin denied murder, telling the court that he blacked out after arguing with his partner at a restaurant earlier in the evening when she told him: “You owe me sex.”

He claimed he woke up the next day with no recollection of what had happened and found the room in a chaotic state before discovering Ms Legg’s body.

Griffin is said to have fled in his Porsche 911, which was later recovered at an address in Warrington, Cheshire, where he grew up.

He was arrested several days after the warrant was issued, in woodland in Macclesfield.

Griffin, who previously owned tanning salons and gadget shops, was told he would be extradited from the UK to face trial in December 2010.

He lived in a mansion in Surrey with Ms Legg, who made her fortune running her family business Vegex, which supplied tomatoes to British supermarkets.

Griffin had been seen arriving at court this week on crutches because he is suffering from a degenerative neurological disorder.

Speaking to media ahead of the verdict, Griffin’s lawyer Francis Triboulet described the prosecution’s request for him to receive a 25-year jail term as “amazing” and “nonsense”.

He said: “All this was a kind of crisis. It’s impossible, according to me, to say that he’s responsible for what he did.

“He had no reason at all to do what he did. In such circumstances the French law says, probably like the English law, that a man cannot be sentenced at the end.”

He said Griffin will be “unwell until the end of his days” and has “been through enough pain for today”.

Mr Triboulet added: “During that period of time for which he has been accused he was not himself. Plus you have the massive consumption of benzodiazepine and alcohol on a very depressed man and we have the explanation. He went into a crisis.”

He said Griffin and Ms Legg were a “crazy couple”. “Everybody knows what a crazy couple is – tumultuous, violent,” he said.

Published: Saturday 6th December 2014 by The News Editor

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