A headteacher stabbed to death his estranged wife and her new boyfriend on New Year’s Day after his mother called police to warn them he was on the rampage with two knives, a court heard today.
Rhys Hancock, 39, then dialled 999 himself after allegedly murdering the mother of his three children Helen Almey, also 39, and Martin Griffiths, 47, Southern Derbyshire Magistrates Court was told this morning.
Hancock flew into a jealous rage and inflicted ‘multiple stab wounds’ on the new couple in a bedroom in the early hours of January 1 having learned about their relationship on Boxing Day, the prosecution said.
The unemployed headteacher, who worked in special needs schools until last year, travelled the ten miles from his mother Christine’s house in Etwall to Helen’s house in Duffield carrying two knives, it is alleged.
Mrs Hancock, who was looking after Rhys and Helen’s three children aged nine, four and three, had dialled 999 at 4.11am to warn them her son was driving there, the court heard.
Officers tried Helen’s mobile phone but it went to voicemail and a dog handler arrived after a second 999 call from the murder suspect himself at around 4.26am, arresting him outside the £400,000 property at 4.30am, the prosecution said.
Police went to a bedroom where they discovered Mr Griffiths, who was already dead, and the gravely injured Mrs Hancock, both with multiple stab wounds. Paramedics battled unsuccessfully for 15 minutes to save her.
Rhys Hancock, 39, left, sketched in the dock today and flanked by two prison officers as a court heard police were called before and after the murders of his estranged wife and her new boyfriend
Hancock (pictured with his children), the 39-year-old husband of Helen Almey, appeared at Southern Derbyshire Magistrates Court today accused of the double murder of her and Martin Griffiths
Victim: Mother-of-three Helen, was stabbed to death in a bedroom alongside her new partner Martin in the early hours of New Year’s Day – after the suspect’s mother dialled 999 saying he had two knives and was going to his former home
Derbyshire Police confirmed that it had referred itself to Britain’s police watchdog the IOPC in the wake of the deaths ‘due to contact between Mrs Hancock and officers prior to the incident’ – police are pictured looking for evidence in the street outside yesterday
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Wearing a black suit blazer, white shirt and appearing unshaved, Hancock appeared in the dock, flanked by security officers, and spoke only to confirm his name, age and nationality.
He did not enter a plea.
Prosecutor Jeanette Stevenson ‘They had separated some time ago. He found out on Boxing Day that his wife was seeing another man.
‘His mother called 999 and informed the police that he had gone back to his former home’.
Magistrates were told how officers arriving at the property found and arrested Hancock outside the address.
Once inside, police went to a bedroom where they discovered Mr Griffiths and Helen stabbed.
Estranged wife of company director killed with his PE teacher new partner tells of ‘absolute devastation’ after New Year’s Day bloodbath
Hours after the tragedy Claire Griffiths changed her cover photo on Facebook to a picture of her with her estranged husband in happier times
The wife of a company director stabbed to death with his new partner has revealed she and their two children have been left ‘devastated’ by his murder.
Claire Griffiths posted a picture of her estranged husband Martin Griffiths, 47 and their son Oliver and daughter Lily May, 13, in happier times.
Speaking from their home in Derby Mrs Griffiths, 40, said today: ‘Absolutely devastated for me, my children and all involved’.
She added that she was still married to Martin despite his new relationship with Helen Almey, who was also allegedly murdered by her estranged husband Rhys Hancock on January 1.
Mr Griffiths, a marketing exec, was also a keen cyclist, snooker player, cricket fan and fell runner and is believed to have separated from wife Claire last year.
Paramedics battled unsuccessfully for 15 minutes to save her, the court heard.
Nobody else was in the house at the time and the children had been staying with a grandparent at the time of the incident, magistrates were told.
Kirsten Collings, defending, said: “On his arrest, Mr Hancock was compliant with the police’.
His counsel made no application for bail and he was remanded in custody. He will next appear before Derby Crown Court on Monday.
Hancock is accused of storming the couple’s former marital home in Duffield and knifing the new couple to death as they saw in 2020 together.
Hancock’s Seat MPV was found abandoned in the road outside with its driver’s doors open and he was arrested at the scene.
Yesterday MailOnline revealed PE teacher Helen Almey, 39, called police to her home over Christmas and Derbyshire Police later confirmed that it had referred itself to Britain’s police watchdog the IOPC ‘due to contact between Mrs Hancock and officers’ prior to her murder.
They would not say how many times they visited.
Fountains High School in Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire, issued a tribute to Helen Almey.
She worked at the school as a PE teacher using her married name but had recently reverted to her maiden name Almey.
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.’
Colleagues of Mr Griffiths, who worked at Derby-based creative design agency 22 Create, said news of the incident had come as a ‘huge shock’.
Chris West, a director at the company, said: ‘Martin was a highly valued colleague, mentor to my team and above all good friend to us all.
‘He thoroughly enjoyed his work in marketing and inspired many with his enthusiasm, positivity and ideas.
‘We are grateful for all the messages of support from clients and the local business community alike.’
Estranged: Helen was found dead at the home she once shared with her estranged headteacher husband, Rhys Hancock (pictured together) having left him in 2019
Martin Griffiths with his estranged wife Claire Griffiths, who said today she is ‘absolutely devastated for me, my children and all involved’
Rhys Hancock’s grey Seat MPV is towed away by police in the aftermath of the murder on January 1
The new couple’s grieving families have paid tribute to Mrs Hancock – who had reverted to her maiden name of Almey on social media – and father-of-two Mr Griffiths after they were murdered while seeing in 2020 together.
Mrs Hancock’s family said: ‘The family are devastated at the loss of Helen who was a lovely, beautiful, friendly, bubbly and social person’.
While Mr Griffiths’s loved-ones said: ‘Martin was a lovely dad, husband, son, brother and uncle, who had a passion for adventure, running and a love of animals.
‘He enjoyed travelling the world, mountain climbing and spending time with his two children. He will be greatly missed’.
Mr Griffiths was a former director of a marketing company and described himself on social media as ‘dad and best friend to two beautiful children’.
Facebook pictures show him enjoying mountaineering trips with friends and family, which he scaled to raise money for charity.
He was also a keen cyclist, snooker player, cricket fan and fell runner and is believed to have separated from wife Claire in 2019.
Officers were on ladders inspecting the roof and pulling up drains in Duffield as they look for clues and perhaps a murder weapon
Hours after the tragedy Mrs Griffiths changed her cover photo on Facebook to a picture of her with her estranged husband and their son Oliver and daughter Lily May, 13, in happier times.
Asked about the tragedy Mrs Griffiths, 40, said: ‘Absolutely devastated for me, my children and all involved.
‘None of the reports have said that the male victim was still married, although separated and that he has left two children.’
It is believed Mr Griffiths met Mrs Hancock through a local running club.
One recommendation on his LinkedIn page describes him as: ‘foremost a genuinely great guy, personable, approachable and professional.’
It adds: ‘Beyond Martin’s professional capability he is an inspiring guy, willing to take on significant challenges in the pursuit of achievement this speaks volumes about his character and integrity.’
Helen, who started using her maiden name Almey again, split with her husband Rhys in 2019
Helen was well-known and much loved in her village, where many said they were bereft for her children
Family: Neighbours said Mrs Hancock (nee Almey) had recently started a relationship after separating from Mr Hancock, who is the father of her children, aged nine, seven and four
- Did you know the victims or Mr Hancock? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0203 615 1866