Patricia Riggs
Patricia Riggs

Riggs found not guilty of wife’s murder

THE family of Tricia Riggs want her husband to tell them where the rest of her remains are buried, and say he should not get parole until he does.  

Edmund Ian Riggs, 59, killed his wife of 17 years on September 30, 2001, buried her body and later dug up her remains, burying them in his own back yard, has been found not guilty of her murder.

Riggs had pleaded guilty at the start of the Supreme Court trial to interfering with his wife's corpse, by burying her body elsewhere, after killing her in their Margate bedroom.

Riggs's defence to murder was that he had killed Tricia accidentally or in self defence or he had pushed her to prevent repetition of the insult of her assaulting him by spitting.

For 15 years, Ian Riggs lied to Patricia Riggs's children, parents, friends, police and courts about his wife's disappearance.

His children were left believing their loving mother, who home schooled them, had just walked out on them, after an argument with their father.

Mark Knowles, brother of 34-year-old Tricia, said revealing where the rest of her remains were was the one thing Riggs, who is yet to be sentenced, could do for the family.  

"We want the rest of my sister's remains," he said, referring to the partial discovery of her remains in 2016.  

"Here's an opportunity, under the Queensland law, to give us those remains, and the Queensland law, I believe, is no body, no parole.  

"Give us the rest of her remains so we can bury her with some dignity."  

He said from the court evidence it seemed like more than half of Tricia's remains were still missing.  

"Where are they? Where is she? Only he knows the answers. If he's got any ounce of dignity he'll let us know," Mr Knowles said.  

Mr Knowles said Tricia was a loving mother and friend to many, who was robbed in the prime of her life.  

"Understandably, we're disappointed with the verdict, but the jury decides, that's the way it is," Mr Knowles said after Riggs was found not guilty of murder.

The location where the body of Patricia Anne Riggs body was found at her former Margate home near Brisbane. Picture: Darren England.
The location where the body of Patricia Anne Riggs body was found at her former Margate home near Brisbane. Picture: Darren England.

After killing Tricia, 34, in their Margate bedroom on the night of Sunday, September 30, 2001, as their children were sleeping, Riggs took her body away and buried it.

The next morning, after Matilda, 14, Harriet, 11, Ned, 9, and Macarthur, 7, woke, he told them he did not know where their mother had gone.

Riggs waited three days to report Tricia missing, telling police she had walked out late on Sunday night, after they had argued, taking only her phone, a credit card, keys and her trainers.

But giving evidence, Riggs told the Supreme Court that on that Sunday night Tricia spat in his face, he pushed her with both hands, she hit her head on a bottom bed post, fell to the floor convulsing and died.

Edmund Ian Riggs in the Supreme Court in Brisbane.
Edmund Ian Riggs in the Supreme Court in Brisbane.

Riggs said Tricia told him she had found a list of escorts in his pocket and he was sickly, gutless, not a man and he should consider suicide.

Riggs showed no emotion, shed no tears, as he calmly said: "I realised I'd killed her. My brain just exploded" and admitted to years of lies and deception in covering it up.

Riggs said he did nothing to try to save his wife, because he was in shock.

He said he immediately thought if police found out he had killed Tricia, he would go to jail for life, leaving his children "parentless".

He said he picked up Tricia's dead body, laid it on the bed, with her head near the bed head, wrapped her in bedding before carrying her to the boot of their car.

He said he then drove to bush near Morayfield, north of Brisbane, carried the body about 50 metres, dug a hole with a spade that had already been in the boot and buried her.

It was not until 12 days after Riggs reported Tricia missing that police searched the house, finding bloodlike spots on the wall behind the couple's bed, and declared a crime scene.

The next day Riggs disappeared, leaving behind a will, catching a bus to Byron Bay under an assumed name.

He left behind four distraught children, in the care of Tricia's mother, Carol Saxton, who had come up from Canberra.

Riggs returned 10 days later, the day after police questioned Ned and Matilda.

Ned, 9, told police he had woken during that night to hear someone going up and down the front stairs and opening and closing the garage door.

Over the years, as fruitless searches were made for Tricia and police considered Riggs their prime suspect for her suspected murder, he maintained the lie that she had just walked out.

Edgar ‘Ned’ Riggs at Brisbane’s Supreme Court this month.. Picture: Dave Hunt/AAP
Edgar ‘Ned’ Riggs at Brisbane’s Supreme Court this month.. Picture: Dave Hunt/AAP

But in 2007, Riggs who had years earlier dug up his wife's remains and reburied her in his own back yard, sold the Margate house.

It was to be his undoing.

In August, 2016, new owner Craig Dicker was digging behind a shed, while building a retaining wall, and dug up some of Tricia's buried bones.

Riggs was charged with murder and interfering with a corpse, but maintained his silence, until giving evidence in his trial last Thursday.

The Supreme Court heard of the couple's rocky marriage, of Riggs seeing prostitutes while they lived in Darwin and of Tricia's sexual affairs.

Shortly before her death Tricia told friends of finding a list of escorts in Ian's pocket and of her bridesmaid, Shantele Tait, telling her she'd had sex with her husband.

Ms Tait and Riggs both denied having had sex, although they said there had been sex chats and a plan to meet for a dirty weekend, before Riggs called it off.

Riggs told police in 2001 that two days before she went missing Tricia said she knew he'd had an affair years earlier and she had never been happy since marrying him.

He said on the night she walked out he told her the relationship was over and she said she was going to screw him for everything and go for full custody of the children.

But giving evidence last week Riggs said he lied in that statement and on the night she died she laughed when told her he wanted to make a go of the marriage, before spitting.

Justice Peter Flanagan said to find Riggs guilty of murder, the Crown had to prove he unlawfully killed his wife with the intention of causing death or grievous bodily harm.

With the case based on circumstantial evidence, the jury had to find it was the only inference to be drawn under the circumstances, the judge said.

Defence counsel, Lars Falcongreen, said even if the jury felt murder was most likely, if accidental death was a reasonable possibility they must acquit Riggs of murder.

Justice Peter Flanagan adjourned Riggs's sentence for manslaughter and interfering with the corpse until February 27.

Ian and Patricia Riggs’ daughteer Matilda. Picture: John Gass/AAP
Ian and Patricia Riggs’ daughteer Matilda. Picture: John Gass/AAP