Briton to go on trial for murder of girlfriend found in hotel bathtub in Paris

PARIS (AFP) - British businessman Ian Griffin goes on trial Monday for the 2009 murder of his girlfriend, who was found dead in the bathtub in the room they shared at a five-star Paris hotel.

Kinga Wolf, 36, a wealthy Polish-born Frenchwoman, had been missing for two days when her battered body was found at the Bristol Hotel in a room with blood spattered on the mattress and walls.

Griffin, 45, had hung a Do Not Disturb sign on the hotel room doorknob before he drove away from the swanky hotel in central Paris in his Porsche.

In June, British police, acting on a European arrest warrant, found Griffin living in a tent in north-west England.

He was extradited to France in May 2011 and stayed in custody until being released with an electronic monitoring bracelet in 2013 after a serious illness.

Court hearings have revealed an extremely volatile relationship between Griffin and Wolf fuelled by alcohol, prescription drugs and mental illness.

The couple arrived in Paris en route to the Riviera.

On the evening of Wolf's death they became embroiled in an alcohol-fuelled spat at a chic restaurant.

A British court heard that Griffin walked out and went back to the hotel, only to find Wolf was there, having taken a taxi.

"He claimed that he remembered nothing else that happened until he woke up the next morning to find her lying in bed. The room had been trashed and its contents broken," the judgement said.

"At first, he thought she was asleep, but he noticed blood around her mouth. He tried to wake her and put her into a hot bath and gave her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. He realised that she was dead. He panicked and left.

"He left in his father's car but realised after a time that he could not drive safely, and so he called his parents to collect him from France. He remembered little else."

Griffin has recalled their often violent relationship, saying Wolf was prone to attacking him.

Two stun guns, including one disguised as a tube of lipstick, were found in the hotel room.

Defence attorney Francis Triboulet is expected to argue that his client suffered from impaired judgement, though both French and British experts have found that while Griffin suffers mental illness and addiction, he was responsible for his actions.

Wolf owned an international company that supplied supermarkets with tomatoes. Griffin, who ran tanning salons and gadget shops in north-west England, was declared bankrupt in 2006.

Griffin faces up to 30 years in prison.

The trial is expected to run until Dec 5.

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