THE mother of a murdered woman who disappeared 20 years ago ‘died of a broken heart’ just months before she would have found out what happened to her daughter.

Debbie Griggs was pregnant with her fourth child when she went missing on May 5, 1999. Her husband Andrew Griggs, now 57 and of Ringwood Road in St Leonards, East Dorset, was this week found guilty following a trial at Canterbury Crown Court.

Mrs Griggs’ father Brian Cameron spoke as his former son-in-law was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum term of 20 years yesterday.

“My wife and I could never quite understand how she could have just disappeared,” he said.

“Unfortunately her mum passed away in January this year. I know she longed to know where Debbie was.

“I would definitely say that Patricia, Debbie’s mother, died of a broken heart, not knowing what happened to Debbie.

“Knowing finally that Debbie was murdered was also difficult to take in. It will always be painful to not know what happened in her final moments.”

Prosecutor Duncan Atkinson QC said: “This was, as far as we can tell, an attack on Debbie in her own home at a time where the children were asleep upstairs.

“The murder was committed to avoid the consequences, both in terms of the financial impact that divorce would otherwise have had, but also in the context of the illegal relationship that the defendant was engaged in at the time.”

Defence barrister Nic Lobbenberg QC gave a brief speech on behalf of Griggs, pointing out that he has no previous convictions and his age.

“He is in poor health, he is in pain, and you could see that when he walked over from the witness box to the jury,” he said.

“For the last 20 years he has brought up the children from his marriage to Debbie, two of which are here in court today.”

“The reality is in the murder of this kind, of this age, there is little that can be said. But it is only fair to point out that the hurt does not go one way.”

The prosecution alleged during the trial that Ms Griggs’ body was disposed of and her car was found dumped streets away from her home in Deal, Kent.

Griggs had denied murder.

He claimed to have been asleep when his wife left home for the last time.

Jurors heard he denied having a relationship with a 15-year-old, telling police in the days after his wife’s disappearance that the girl was “just a mate”.