A former headteacher who butchered his estranged wife and her new lover in cold blood during a “savage and merciless” knife attack has been jailed for life.
Evil Rhys Hancock, 40, flew into a rage and stabbed to death Helen Almey, 39, and Martin Griffiths, 48, in a New Year’s Day bloodbath at his former marital home.
The jealous thug carried out the “act of monumental brutality” after finding out his ex-partner had a new boyfriend following the breakdown of their marriage.
Ms Almey suffered a horrifying 66 stab wounds and injuries while her partner suffered 37 during the brutal attack as they lay defenceless in bed.
PE teacher Ms Almey was found with her head in the lap of Mr Griffiths in a pool of blood at the £400,000 property in in Duffield, Derbys., just after 4am.
Despite the efforts of paramedics, Ms Almey and dad-of-two Mr Griffiths, a company director of a marketing firm, were pronounced dead at the scene.
Hancock dialled 999 and confessed to what he had done and told police who arrived at the scene: “I am hardly going to deny it, look at me.
“I have clearly done it haven’t I? I have their blood all over my clothes.”
He had earlier told his mum “I feel like killing them both” and said he wanted his wife to “feel the same level of pain he felt” before travelling to the property with two knives.
Ms Almey, who had walked out on Hancock just a few months earlier, was stabbed with such ferocity that the knife’s handle went into her stomach.
A court heard how a pathologist described the murder scene as a “bloodbath” and the most violent attack he had ever seen in his career.
Hancock, of Etwall, Derbys, previously pleaded guilty to two counts of murder and was jailed for life to serve a minimum of 31 years.
Sentencing, Judge Nirmal Shant said: “What you did on that night is to deprive two families of the people they loved.
“No sentence or anything I do will leave the undoubted void left by Helen and Martin in their families lives.
“It left your three children without a mother and left Martin Griffiths and his family without their father.
“I have listened about the great loss and pain left in their lives.
“On January 1, as the evening went on you made the decision to kill not just Helen but also Martin. This was a premeditated killing.
“You were making enquiries to find out what was going on in Helen’s life. Things had been brewing in your mind for some days.
“You went into your mother’s bedroom and declared the man was at your house. You made your decision to kill them both.
“You had driven to the address earlier despite drinking. You wanted to kill them both. She thought you were talking about your feelings rather than actually killing them.
“You armed yourself with cutting knives, one 18cm long and the other 30cm. You told her it was you or them.
“You told her not to stop you but she tried her best to stop you that evening.
“You made your way there to where Helen was entitled to feel safe in. You entered the back door and crept into the house.
“You attacked both of them in a brutal attack that results in their death. The only available sentence is life, which I pass on you.
“It’s clear that the court should be in no doubt that you should be kept in prison for the rest of your life and that is what I apply.
“I have concluded there was a substantial degree of premeditation and planning.
“The ambulance service described the scene as a bloodbath. You inflicted 66 injuries on Helen Hancock with five on the torso and two on her breasts.
“Some of the incised wounds were caused by severe force and there were a substantial number of defensive injuries.
“The attack was part of a brutal assault. I can’t be sure that the killing was secular or what amounts to sadistic conduct.
“The defendant would have to derive a sexual pleasure, which I had concluded he did not.
“Martin Griffiths sustained 37 injuries with the most serious the attack on his neck which severed his jugular vein.
“There is no sign of blood beyond the bedroom which suggests they did not make it out. The appropriate starting point is 30 years.
“Mitigation is you accepted responsibility straight away, You were of good character.
“There is evidence you had mental difficulties that provide a backdrop to this attack.
“It was substantially premeditated and pre-planned. Your mother made efforts to stop you but nothing would deter you.
“Both knives were formidable and you had the intent to kill rather than cause bodily harm.
“You went in the back door and the attack must have happened when they were in bed defenceless.
“I give you credit for the plea which makes it a minimum of 31 years. That is concurrent on both counts.
“I thank the families for acting with the utmost dignity.”
Prosecutor Michael Auty QC earlier told the court the murders were “premeditated, savage and the attacks were merciless with a clear element of sadism.”
He added: “His intention from first to last was to kill. This was committed with the coldest of blood.”
Detective Inspector Steve Shaw, of Derbyshire Police, said afterwards: “What was apparent throughout our investigation was just how popular Helen and Martin were.
“They were much-loved by not only their families but by friends, neighbours and colleagues and I know their deaths have devastated everyone who knew them.”
The court heard how the tragic events unfolded when Hancock’s mum Denise called police at 4.11am informing them her son had taken two knives from her home.
Hancock had taken her emergency safety button, unplugged the internet and taken the two home phones in an effort to stop her from contacting anyone.
However, she still had her mobile phone and urgently rang 999 to warn officers her son was on his way to kill Helen and Martin.
Mr Auty, prosecuting, said: “It must have been unimaginable.
“She said ‘Please you need to go. His wife has accused him of things. She is with another man.
“‘My son found out. He now has two knives. He is in his car. He lives with me and he left five to ten minutes ago. I saw him take the knives.’
“Before officers could get to New Zealand Lane in Duffield, the defendant telephoned them himself.
“He told them he was there. He said ‘I just killed my wife in their bed. I have stabbed them and slit their throats.
“‘His name is Martin Griffiths. This just happened. They are dead. My kids are safe at my mother’s house.”
Two knives were left in the bedroom which Paul Whitfield, a clinical operations manager with the East Midlands Ambulance Service described as a “bloodbath”.
At 4.28am, arresting officer Constable Bailey saw the defendant’s car outside with the door open.
Hancock was stood outside on the phone. The front door was wide open and the lights were on with his shoes and the left side of his shirt heavily stained with fresh blood.
The officer drew his taser before directing him on the ground and Hancock was described as being compliant throughout.
Mr Auty added: “He said: ‘I’ve come here and I’ve deliberately murdered them. I’m sorry, but I’ve been subjected to f***ing abuse for years and years.
“I’m going to plead guilty though, it’s fairly f***ing obvious. You know what, I’m a f***ing ex headteacher.
“To have the indignity of my children, telling me on Boxing Day that a man called Martin was there on Christmas Day cooking them breakfast.
“He’s sleeping in my f***ing bed. He went away with her on my anniversary. He was f***ing her in my home.”
The court heard Ms Almey was found just wearing a t-shirt while Mr Griffiths had on boxer shorts and the room was covered in blood.
She had her head in his lap, with the blade of one of the knives still lodged in her thigh.
Paramedics tried to resuscitate for 15 mins before the pair were announced dead.
In a heartbreaking victim statement, Ms Almey’s sister Jane said: “I last saw her on New Year’s Eve. She was my best friend, gym buddy and confidant.
“Losing her in such a tragic circumstance has hit hard. I feel for the children.
“They now have no mum to cuddle them when they feel upset, no one to pick them up when they fall over.
“I know I have to be there for them and it is what she would have done for me. We would often pop into each other’s houses.
“Helen told me how she loved babysitting my children. I don’t have that anymore. She was my sister, I love her and I miss her.
“We will never be able to have a girly night in and share a bottle of wine. Christmas will be a tough time for years to come.
“We would always get together to celebrate it and Helen’s birthday.
“New Years will never be the same. When others are celebrating, I won’t be able to join in.”
Mr Griffiths’ mum Jacqueline Griffiths said: “Our life has changed forever. We are a very close family.
“Every aspect of our lives was touched by Martin.
“At this moment the sadness is unbearable. Hearing a car door to see if it is Martin or checking my mobile to see if he has texted me.
“I have nightmares. It’s like losing a precious piece of the jigsaw and never being able to see the whole pitcher.
“Hancock has destroyed our lives. He had an 11 mile drive to stop and think about what he was doing.
“In a few minutes, he inflicted the most devastating consequences.
“It was an act of monumental brutality. It’s not something even we could comprehend.
“He will have visiting rights from his family but we will not have that right for our son. “
Hancock also bombarded Helen’s father, Trevor Almey, with phone calls regarding his daughter and how he wanted to win her back.
He even visited her parent’s home with flowers and gifts for Trevor to give to Helen before calling Martin’s estranged wife Claire about their new relationship.
Hancock’s defence barrister said his client was suffering from PTSD, anxiety and depression when he carried out the double murder.
The ex-head teacher of Stanton Vale Special School in Long Eaton, Derbs., was said to have “snapped in a jealous rage”.
Clive Stockwell QC, defending, said: “Rhys Hancock made a highly irrational decision and then set off to achieve that purpose
“Getting in a car, driving there, no thought was given to how he would get in or achieve what he sought to do.
“As to his admission of guilt, it was he who dialled 999 and admitted wrongdoing, and the officer on the scene was met with an immediate confession.
“He is of good character and he has demonstrated remorse. Mr Hancock has written letters to the family of the victims and his own children.
“He learned his wife was with another man. Martin Griffiths and Helen Hancock were not at fault at all.
“With some insight into this defendant’s frail mental health, he saw himself as replaced.
“Something ignited within him. It was thoughts of self-pity and rage. Something snapped in him and he clearly exploded in rage.
“When he committed these acts, he was a broken man.
“He did all he could and wanted to get right so he could salvage his marriage.
“He wanted to reunite with his wife and family. His whole adult life had been devoted to his wife and children.”