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CRIME

Paris: Brit faces 30 years jail for ‘bathtub murder’

British businessman Ian Griffin went on trial on Monday for the 2009 murder of his girlfriend, who was found dead in the bathtub in the room they shared at a five-star Paris hotel.

Paris: Brit faces 30 years jail for 'bathtub murder'
British businessman goes on trial for the 2009 murder of his girlfriend at the Hotel Bristol in Paris (above). Photo: Fred Dufour/AFP

A British businessman accused of murdering his girlfriend in a swanky Paris hotel appeared confused and evasive as his trial opened on Monday, struggling even to recall his own childhood.

Ian Griffin, 45, appeared in a Paris court dressed in a dark suit and on crutches because of a degenerative neurological disorder.

He faces up to 30 years behind bars if convicted of the 2009 murder of Kinga Wolf, a wealthy woman of Polish origin who was found dead in the bathtub of the room they shared in the five-star Bristol Hotel in Paris.

Asked about his childhood, Griffin replied in a slow and hesitant voice: "I don't really remember. I mainly swam. For 10 years it was most of my life."

Details then emerged of a troubled childhood and early adulthood.

Born into a rich family, the son of an architect, Griffin was regularly beaten by his father. A turbulent adolescence followed but then he embarked — with family support — on what would prove a successful business career.

He set up a chain of tanning centres, then made a fortune in California in the ringtone business. When this ended, Griffin came back to Britain and worked on various Internet businesses.

But the court heard that Griffin had a serious addiction problem with alcohol and anti-depressants.

"I didn't know you needed more, and more, and more, and more," he told the court.

Today, he said he took only painkillers for his legs.

His relationship with women was "complicated," the court heard.

"You can get many things from one person but when something is missing, you need comfort and you go to the other person to get what you need," he said, in response to a question as to whether he was seeing an old flame at the same time as Wolf.

'Childish' attitude to women

A report into his personality revealed that he had a "need to be mothered" and a "very childish attitude to women". Experts also noted a "dependence on his parents and on women".

He said he couldn't even remember how much he was earning at the time of the alleged murder, as Wolf, a successful and wealthy businesswoman in her own right, looked after the finances.

"Kinga said to her friends, 'I don't want him to have any money of his own'," Griffin said.

The couple were in Paris en route for the Riviera where they were to try out a luxury yacht that Wolf had rented.

They became embroiled in an alcohol-fuelled spat at a chic restaurant on the night Wolf died.

A British court hearing revealed that Griffin claimed to remember nothing of this night until waking the next morning to find her lying in bed with the room trashed.

He tried to wake her and put her into a hot bath, the British court heard, then realised she was dead. He panicked, hung a "do-not-disturb" sign on the door and sped off in his Porsche.

British police, acting on a European arrest warrant, eventually found Griffin living in a tent in northwest England.

He was extradited to France in May 2011 and stayed in custody until being released with an electronic monitoring bracelet in 2013.

A verdict in the case is expected on Friday.

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CRIME

French court convicts 8 for stealing Banksy from Paris terror attack site

A French court on Thursday convicted eight men for the theft and handling of a Banksy painting paying homage to the victims of the 2015 attack on the Bataclan concert hall in Paris.

French court convicts 8 for stealing Banksy from Paris terror attack site

Three men in their 30s who admitted to the 2019 theft were given prison sentences, one of four years and two of three, although they will be able to serve them wearing electronic tracking bracelets rather than behind bars.

Another man, a 41-year-old millionaire lottery winner and street art fan accused of being the mastermind of the heist, was given three years in jail for handling stolen goods after judges found the main allegation unproven. His sentence will also be served with a bracelet.

Elsewhere in the capital, the defence was making its final arguments in the trial of the surviving suspects in the 2015 Paris attacks themselves, with a verdict expected on June 29.

‘Acted like vultures’ 

British street artist Banksy painted his “sad girl” stencil on the metal door of the Bataclan in memory of the 90 people killed there on November 13th, 2015.

A white van with concealed number-plates was seen stopping on January 26, 2019 in an alleyway running alongside the central Paris music venue.

Many concertgoers fled via the same alley when the Bataclan became the focal point of France’s worst ever attacks since World War II, as Islamic State group jihadists killed 130 people at a string of sites across the capital.

On the morning of the theft, three masked men climbed out of the van, cut the hinges with angle grinders powered by a generator and left within 10 minutes, in what an investigating judge called a “meticulously prepared” heist.

Prosecutor Valerie Cadignan told the court earlier this month that the perpetrators had not sought to debase the memory of the attack victims, but “being aware of the priceless value of the door were looking to make a profit”.

She said the thieves “acted like vultures, like people who steal objects without any respect for what they might represent”.

During the trial, Bataclan staff said the theft sparked “deep indignation”, adding that the painted door was a “symbol of remembrance that belongs to everyone, locals, Parisians, citizens of the world”.

Investigators pieced together the door’s route across France and into Italy, where it was found in June 2020 on a farm in Sant’Omero, near the Adriatic coast.

Three men involved in transporting the door were each jailed for 10 months, while a 58-year-old Italian man who owns a hotel where it was temporarily stored received a six-month suspended sentence.

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