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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French minister apologises for Champions League chaos

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin on Tuesday made a partial apology for chaos at last month's Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool in Paris, while insisting fake tickets and "delinquency" were mostly to blame.

French minister apologises for Champions League chaos

“Should things have been managed better at the Stade de France (stadium)? The answer is yes. Am I partly responsible? The answer is yes,” Darmanin told RTL radio.

“Of course, I readily apologise towards everyone who suffered from this bad management of the event,” he added.

After scenes of fans crowded into tight spaces and being tear-gassed by police caused outrage around Europe, Darmanin poured fuel on the fire by blaming supporters with fake tickets for the disruption.

UEFA events director Martin Kallen last week told French senators investigating the fiasco that the football body’s count of fake tickets was far short of the tens of thousands claimed by French authorities.

“We don’t believe it’s the number mentioned in France,” he said, adding that 2,600 fake tickets were identified at turnstiles — compared with the number of 30,000 to 40,000 people with fake tickets and without tickets suggested by Darmanin.

“It was a question of fake tickets… that created the difficulties we all know about” of large crowds of fans packed into underpasses or outside locked gates, Darmanin insisted Tuesday.

He added that “if there was something that went wrong at the Stade de France, it was the fight against delinquency”, saying he had already ordered a reorganisation of policing around the venue and that three major matches since had passed without incident.

While some supporters did report being victims of crime by gangs of youths before and after the match, there were also many complaints about police treatment of fans.

Disabled Liverpool fans last week told the Senate how officers sprayed tear gas at people in wheelchairs.

The English supporters have reacted with particular fury to Darmanin’s defence of the French police’s actions.

“People’s memories will forever be tarred by the lack of organisation and heavy-handed policing, and then of course the way authorities tried to deflect blame and scapegoat Liverpool fans for their incompetence,” Liverpool mayor Steve Rotheram told AFP earlier this month.

CCTV footage from around the stadium has also been deleted despite the Senate probe.

A government report published earlier this month said a “chain of failures” by French authorities has inflicted “severe damage” on the image of the country as it prepares to host the Olympic Games in 2024.