Father of Patricia Riggs fears she could have been buried alive

THE father of Margate mother-of-four Patricia Riggs, who was killed by her husband almost 18 years ago, fears she could have been buried alive.

Jon Knowles has questioned whether Tricia's killer husband, Ian Riggs, who said she died within a minute of hitting her head on a bed post, had the medical expertise to make that call.

"My daughter might have been buried alive,'' Jon Knowles, 74, said, reflecting on Riggs's own evidence that, believing she was dead, he drove with Tricia's body to bushland and buried her.

"It's a devastating thought and I most certainly hope it wasn't true.''

Patricia Ann Riggs, who was killed by her husband Edmund Ian Riggs.
Patricia Ann Riggs, who was killed by her husband Edmund Ian Riggs.

A jury on Wednesday found Riggs not guilty of murder but guilty of unlawfully killing Patricia Riggs, 34, on September 30, 2001, in the bedroom of their Margate home. He pleaded guilty at the start of the Supreme Court trial to interfering with her corpse and is yet to be sentenced.

Riggs told the court that after Tricia spat in his face, she fell back, hit the back of her head or neck on a bed post, fell on a floor rug, convulsing, and died within 60 seconds.

He said he could not detect any pulse or breathing, he felt a "reasonable amount of blood on the back of Tricia's head and believed he had killed her. No blood was found on the carpet.

Riggs, who knew CPR, told the Supreme Court his "brain exploded'', he was in shock and he did "nothing'', fearing he would go to jail, leaving their four children without both parents.

"Obviously, I wasn't rational,'' Riggs told the court.

When asked how much alcohol he had earlier that night, watching football at his brother's, Riggs said "a four-pack or six-pack of Jim Beam''.

"He was possibly inebriated, he said he was in an emotional state,'' Mr Knowles said.

"How could he make a clear and precise decision that she was dead? He's not a medical expert.''

Mr Knowles said he believed if someone had a brain injury or stroke, that it could affect their breathing or pulse rate for a minute or so after.

"We're talking about someone's life. Surely, making a decision about whether someone is alive or dead takes serious thought. Surely, you'd ring triple-0 for an ambulance.''

Riggs said he wrapped Tricia's body in bedding, put it in his car boot, drove to bush north of Brisbane, dug a hole in the dark and buried her.

He said two to three years later, he dug up her remains and buried them in his back yard, where they were discovered in 2016 by the new owner.

"He had the hide to say in court that he still cared for her,'' Mr Knowles said.