Father-of-three makes first court appearance charged with killing his estranged wife and another man following stabbing in Derbyshire town

An estranged husband has appeared in court charged with murdering his wife and a man who were stabbed at a house in a Derbyshire village on New Year's Day.  

Helen Hancock, 39, and Martin Griffiths, 48, were found with fatal wounds at a property on New Zealand Lane, Duffield.

Helen Hancock (nee Almey), 39, and Martin Griffiths, 48

Helen Hancock (nee Almey), 39, and Martin Griffiths, 48

Rhys Hancock, 39, of Portland Street, Etwall, Derbyshire, appeared before Southern Derbyshire Magistrates’ Court, in Derby, on Friday, January 3.

Hancock, previously of New Zealand Lane, Duffield, confirmed his name and current address when he appeared before the court, but made no plea to the charges.

Dressed in a white shirt and dark suit, the father-of-three was told that his case was being adjourned to Derby Crown Court on Monday, January 6.

Defending, Kirsten Collings, made no application for bail and Hancock was remanded into custody until his next appearance.

Mrs Hancock, whose maiden name was Almey, and Mr Griffiths, from Derby, were found dead at the house at about 4am on New Year’s Day.

The family of Mrs Hancock, from Duffield, described her as a "lovely, beautiful, friendly, bubbly and social person".

Mr Griffiths, a father-of-two from Derby, was said by his family to be "a lovely dad, husband, son, brother and uncle who had a passion for adventure, running and a love of animals".

The statement added: "He enjoyed travelling the world, mountain climbing and spending time with his two children. He will be greatly missed."

Officers remained at the house on Thursday, with searches and door-to-door inquiries taking place.

Police previously said no-one else was at the house at the time.

The quiet residential street is located just yards from the town’s prestigious Ecclesbourne School.

Ch Supt Hayley Barnett, of Derbyshire Police, said: "The thoughts of everyone at Derbyshire Constabulary are with the family and friends of Mrs Hancock and Mr Griffiths.

"Our thoughts are also with the Duffield community, which is understandably shocked by this incident."

Derbyshire Police has referred itself to the police watchdog over previous contact with Mrs Hancock.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) confirmed it was investigating police contact with Mrs Hancock before her death.