A BRITISH businessman killed his millionairess girlfriend in a five-star Paris hotel room just weeks after she told friends she might be in danger, a court heard yesterday.
Kinga Legg sent texts claiming she had been beaten and defendant Ian Griffin (left)
Ian Griffin, 45, left Kinga Legg’s naked body in a bath covered with 92 bruises in May 2009, it is alleged. Prosecutors told the Assize Court in the capital that the couple had earlier had a violent argument fuelled by bottles of champagne and wine.
Mr Griffin then allegedly fled the £1,000-a-night room at Le Bristol Paris hotel, leaving a “do not disturb” sign on the door before driving back to England in his Porsche 911 sports car.
Police found the bankrupt tanning salon operator camping in woodland near Macclesfield, Cheshire.
He claimed he had tried to kill himself, and was later extradited back to France.
Mr Griffin appeared in court in Paris on the first day of the trial yesterday with fiancee Tracy Baker, 34, a former contestant on the BBC2 show Dragons’ Den.
The court heard Miss Legg, 36, who was Polish, was jealous of Miss Baker, who was a former girlfriend of Mr Griffin. They had broken up before his relationship started with Miss Legg but are now back together.
Mr Griffin, who claimed Miss Legg killed herself with a drugs overdose, denied murder yesterday. He faces 30 years in prison if convicted.
He looked in pain as he entered the court on crutches and wearing a dark grey suit and blue shirt. Prosecutors said the victim – who was the former wife of an English civil servant, Peter Legg, and sometimes used her maiden name Wolf – was in an “abusive” relationship with Mr Griffin.
They alleged that a few weeks before Miss Legg’s death she had sent text messages to friends claiming he had beaten her up and made her take an overdose.
“In case I die”. She later asked friends to delete the messages. On the day she died, the couple had been seen arguing in Bound, an upmarket restaurant off the Champs Elysees.
The couple had two bottles of wine plus aperitifs at the eaterie, then returned separately to the hotel, where the drinking and arguing continued. Miss Legg’s body was found the next evening after her brother became concerned that he could not contact her by phone.
When hotel staff got into the room they found blood spattered over a mattress and walls, and two miniature stun guns, one of which was disguised as a tube of lipstick.
Defence lawyer Francis Triboulet told the court Mr Griffin had suffered a memory loss “black hole” after the drinking session.
He had woken up in a “devastated room”, and believed at first his girlfriend was sleeping before he realised she was dead, said Mr Triboulet.
“When he was found in Britain on June 1, his veins were slashed and he was next to a rope with a noose. He said he had returned to England to commit suicide.”
Mr Griffin, originally from Warrington in Cheshire, later called his architect father and told him Miss Legg had killed herself with an overdose.
The defendant rekindled his relationship with Miss Baker after his arrest, when she regularly visited him in custody. They now have homes in Cannes and other parts of France. Last August, Dragons’ Den tycoon Duncan Bannatyne dropped out of a £60,000 deal with her after it emerged she was connected to Mr Griffin.
The Scottish businessman had planned to take a 35 per cent stake in UM! Brands, her franchise for selling a sticky product used to mount household items.
Miss Legg’s company Vegex shipped more than 300 million tomatoes a year from Poland to major companies such as McDonald’s and supermarkets Tesco and Carrefour.
The UK base of Vegex was in Oxshott, Surrey, where Miss Legg and Mr Griffin rented a £3million executive mansion.
Mr Griffin’s trial is expected to last until Friday.
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