Accused killer dumped wife's body, went back for bones: court

Police at the site where the remains  of Patricia Ann Riggs was found this year.
Police at the site where the remains of Patricia Ann Riggs was found this year. QUEENSLAND POLICE

ACCUSED wife killer Edmund Ian Riggs allegedly dug a shallow grave for the mother of his four children and left her to rot in a cemetery before later returning to collect her bones.

That is the prosecution's case against the Sunshine Coast man who was refused bail on Friday for the 2001 cold case murder of his wife Patricia.

Crown Prosecutor Sarah Varnden told Brisbane Supreme Court Mr Riggs, now 57, was seen digging in the dark at Redcliffe cemetery around the time Ms Riggs, 32, disappeared.

A cemetery worker allegedly came forward with information after reading media reports in 2004 and identified Mr Riggs in a police photo board.

It was a further 12 years before Ms Riggs' skeletal remains were discovered on the property where her family had previously lived. The new owners of the home made the grisly find while renovating in August this year.

Mr Riggs, who had lived for several years at the Caloundra Caravan Park, was arrested and charged with murder and interfering with a corpse.

Ms Varnden said it would be alleged Mr Riggs moved the bones after his wife's body had decomposed and buried them in the yard of the family home.

Referring to the recent High Court decision in the Gerard Baden-Clay case, which found his "post offence" conduct following the death of his wife Allison could be used to prove intent, Ms Varnden said Mr Briggs' alleged dumping of the body and the movement of bones to their "final resting place” could do the same.

She said Mr Riggs did not report his wife missing until three days after she disappeared and that after police found spattered blood in the couple's bedroom, he had fled to Northern NSW and stayed in motels around Byron Bay and Nimbin under an assumed name.

Mr Riggs' family were in court to support him on Friday. All four of his children offered $50,000 bail surety.

Defence barrister Lars Falcongreen said his client would "never betray the faith of his children” by breaching bail.

He questioned why his client would choose his own residence to dispose of the body and and "why when he left would he not take the bones with him?”

He also pointed to the evidence of a woman who claimed to have seen Ms Riggs at a Townsville aquarium after the date she was said to have disappeared.

Justice James Douglas said along with the evidence of the cemetery worker, the "significant issue” for Mr Riggs was that his wife's body was found at the family home.

He said he had to take into account the "possible strength” of the prosecution's case when considering bail for an offence which carried a term of life in jail.

Bail was refused. Mr Riggs was remanded in custody until his next appearance in court on a date to be set.


Topics:  bail application brisbane supreme court

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