Estranged husband appears in court charged with murdering wife

3 January 2020, 14:28

Rhys Hancock (centre) has been charged with the murders of Helen Almey and Martin Griffiths
Rhys Hancock (centre) has been charged with the murders of Helen Almey and Martin Griffiths. Picture: Facebook
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

The estranged husband of a woman found dead in her home has appeared in court accused of her murder and that of her new partner.

Rhys Hancock, 39, of Etwall, Derbyshire, has been charged with killing Helen Almey, also 39, from Duffield, and Martin Griffiths, 48, from Derby.

The couple were both found fatally stabbed at Ms Almey's Duffield home in New Zealand Lane on New Year's Day.

Police were first called to the attack at 4.11am.

Ms Almey, a PE teacher, is understood to have reverted back to her maiden name after splitting with her husband.

She shared three children - aged nine, four and three - with Hancock.

Hancock made a brief appearance in court on Friday
Hancock made a brief appearance in court on Friday. Picture: Elizabeth Cook / PA

The family of Ms Almey and Mr Griffiths have since paid emotional tributes to their loved ones.

Hancock appeared at Southern Derbyshire Magistrates' Court for a brief ten-minute hearing on Friday.

The father-of-three wore a black suit blazer, white shirt and appeared before magistrates unshaved.

He was surrounded by security officers and spoke only to confirm his name, age and nationality.

Prosecutor Jeanette Stevenson confirmed to the court that Hancock, a headteacher, had been "compliant with police on arrest and throughout the whole process."

Magistrates heard how officers who attended the scene found and arrested Hancock outside.

Hancock and Ms Almey had three children together
Hancock and Ms Almey had three children together. Picture: Facebook

Police entered the home and discovered father-of-two Mr Griffiths, who was already dead, and the severely injured Ms Almey.

Paramedics battled for 15 minutes to save Ms Almey but were unable to keep her alive.

There were no other people in the house at the time and the children had been staying with a grandparent for the night, magistrates were told.

Ms Stevenson said that Hancock and Ms Almey had separated "some time ago" and described Mr Griffiths as her "new partner."

Hancock was remanded in custody and is set to appear at Derby Crown Court on Monday.

On Friday, Fountains High School in Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire, issued a tribute to Ms Almey, who worked at the school as a PE teacher.

Police were called to the scene at 4:11am on New Year's Day
Police were called to the scene at 4:11am on New Year's Day. Picture: PA

In the statement, the school said: "We are all deeply saddened by the tragic news of Helen's death.

"She was a well-liked member of staff who made a real difference to the pupils she taught here at school.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Helen's family and friends at this tragic time while we help pupils, parents and staff come to terms with this truly awful news."

Mr Griffiths's family, also paying tribute, said: "Martin was a lovely dad, husband, son, brother and uncle, who had a passion for adventure, running and a love of animals."

Derbyshire Police has referred itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct due to contact between Mrs Hancock and officers prior to the incident.