British ‘gigolo’ gets 20 years for Paris murder

British businessman Ian Griffin was jailed for 20 years by a Paris court on Friday for the brutal murder of his Polish-born girlfriend in a five-star hotel in the French capital.

British 'gigolo' gets 20 years for Paris murder
British businessman Ian Griffin arrives at the Paris' Criminal court with his lawyer to a hearing of his trial for the murder of his partner Kinga Wolf in 2009, on December 5, 2014. AFP Photo/Matthieu

The jury found 45-year-old Griffin guilty despite his claim that he had no recall of the incident because he had blacked out in their room at the exclusive Le Bristol hotel near the Champs Elysees in May 2009.

His wealthy girlfriend, Kinga Wolf, 36, died of massive internal bleeding.

Her skull, jaw and larynx were smashed and more than 100 marks were found on her body, from her face to her feet.

Giving its verdict, the court rejected the defence's arguments, saying Griffin was responsible for his actions and pointed to his "attempts to delay the discovery of the body", and to his contradictory account of the events as proof of his guilt.

Griffin made no reaction as the verdict was read out, but his new girlfriend Tracy Baker — with whom he had a baby while he was on bail — collapsed in tears in the public gallery.

The prosecution described Griffin as a "gigolo", who had no visible source of income but lived off his wealthy girlfriends, such as Wolf, who owned an international company that supplied tomatoes to supermarkets.

It said he had a history of violence towards women and called for a 25-year prison sentence.

The Briton had claimed he and Wolf had had a ferocious row over dinner at a chic restaurant in the French capital after she refused him the anti-depression pills to which he had become addicted.

He said she then pressured him for sex, but he was in no state and refused.

"She was very upset," Griffin told the court in evidence on Tuesday.

He said he had left the restaurant before her intending to "get my car keys and leave", but she made it back to their hotel room before him.

"When I walked into the room and heard her voice, I went into a total blank, nothing," Griffin told the court.

"I know it doesn't make sense, but that's what absolutely happened."

Griffin said he had woken the next morning to find the room in an "awful" state and tried to clear up the mess.

He claimed he had not found his girlfriend's body, between two mattresses, until the afternoon.

Presiding judge Didier Safar had expressed surprise at his evidence, asking why it took so long for him to think of his girlfriend.

Griffin was arrested in England in June 2009 and extradited to France in May 2011. He was later released due to a neurological condition that means he uses crutches, and had to wear a security tag.

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France vows to tackle motorbike ‘rodeos’ after children injured

The French government has pledged a new crackdown against illicit motorbike cruising by youths in suburbs across the country, after two children were seriously injured by a rider near Paris.

France vows to tackle motorbike 'rodeos' after children injured

The rowdy late-night races and stunts known as “rodeos” have become increasingly popular in particular in low-income neighbourhoods, leading to complaints about traffic and noise from local officials and many residents.

On Friday evening, a 10-year-old girl and an 11-year-old boy were hit by a rider while playing tag outside their home in Pontoise, northwest of the capital.

French daily Le Figaro reported on Monday that the girl suffered a blow to the head and remained in serious condition in hospital, while the boy had a broken leg.

The accident came after a 19-year-old man was killed in June after being hit by a bike rider in the western city of Rennes.

“I have asked the police to step up their interventions this month,” Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said in the southern city of Marseille.

Nonetheless the rodeos are often tolerated or defended as a gritty urban subculture that provides an outlet for disaffected youths, with an upcoming film, “Rodeo”, that appears to glorify the gatherings and  generated a strong buzz at the Cannes film festival last May.

Police have carried out 8,000 operations to break up rodeos in the past two months, leading to 1,200 arrests and the seizure of around 700 motorbikes and other vehicles including all-terrain “quads”.

In 2018, parliament passed a law increasing penalties for the riders to up to five years in prison.