A SAILOR accused of murdering his pregnant wife 20 years ago has told his trial she used to storm out after arguments and threaten to kill herself.

Mother-of-three Debbie Griggs disappeared without trace from her home in Kent in 1999 and has never been seen since.

Andrew Griggs, who lives in Ringwood Road in St Leonards, East Dorset, is on trial charged with murder, which he denies.

Prosecutors say Ms Griggs's body was disposed of and her car was found dumped streets away from her home in Deal.

They say this followed suspicions that her husband was having a relationship with a 15-year-old girl.

Griggs, 57, is on trial at Canterbury Crown Court.

Standing in the witness box on Thursday, wearing a blue shirt and dark trousers, Griggs described himself as a "shy man" who does not express his emotions.

He held up photographs of his children and dog for the jury to see as he answered questions from his defence barrister, Nicholas Lobbenberg QC.

Griggs said his wife would go off in her car after they argued, and that on "more than one occasion" she threatened to kill herself.

He told the jury she had frequently accused him of having an affair.

He added that she suffered post-natal depression after her pregnancies and the couple would argue.

"Her whole personality had changed, she had no patience," he said.

"She was very angry at times with the children. It was very stressful for the both of us."

Griggs was asked about an incident in which he apparently kneed her in the stomach, despite knowing she was pregnant.

He denied ever trying to punch or kick her in the stomach, or doing anything that might threaten the pregnancy.

Griggs, who worked as a fisherman for years, told the jury that Ms Griggs was a "strict" parent, while he was a "bit of a softie".

Asked about the night she disappeared, Griggs said she had come home to find him asleep on the sofa and had become angry.

"The next thing I knew is Debbie shouting at me, 'It's OK for you to fall asleep - let's see how you cope with them 24 hours a day, seven days a week'," he said.

"And then she walked out.

"I thought she had just gone out to cool off again."

He said he was not "overly concerned" at that time and went to bed.

Ms Griggs was never seen again and he was eventually arrested by police, the court heard.

The defendant said the disappearence was the "talk of Deal" and that there was a lot of "gossip" in the town.

"I went to live with my parents," he said,

In 2001 Griggs sold the family business for £3 and moved to Dorset with his children.

The following year he was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault on a child, the court heard.

Griggs denied the offence to the jury.

His defence barrister asked him if he murdered Debbie Griggs. He said he did not.

The trial continues.