Ex-rugby league star Ricky Bibey found dead in Florence hotel alongside injured woman
Rickey Bibey was found dead in the hotel room a stone’s throw away from Ponte del Vecchio. Photo taken when he played for Wigan Warriors in 2003
Former rugby league star Ricky Bibey has been found dead in a £350-a-night riverside hotel in Florence, Italy.
The ex-sportsman, who retired from the game in 2012, died yesterday morning.
The 40-year-old made 215 appearances for five rugby league sides, including three stints at hometown club Leigh Centurions.
Bibey was identified by police, according to local newspaper La Nazione.
He is understood to have arrived in the picturesque city with a woman on Friday night and they arrived back at the Hotel Continentale ‘in high spirits’ at 2am on Saturday.
The woman is understood to have been found bloodied and bruised before being taken to hospital.
Today police sources in Florence told MailOnline they hoped to question the woman this evening or at the latest tomorrow morning.
An insider said: ‘She is recovering but is still sedated so we are waiting for the go ahead from medical staff at the hospital.
‘She has not been arrested and it will not be a formal questioning it’s more a question of trying to understand what happened in the room.
‘The hope was for an autopsy to be carried out on the man sometime today but that will now happen on Monday.
‘That will establish levels of alcohol and if any drugs were present but at this moment all we know for certain is that no third party was involved. We are satisfied of that.’
Italian media have reported that a ‘type of truncheon’ had been recovered from the couple’s first floor room as well as ‘other objects’.
The source added: ‘Obviously items have been taken from the room as with any investigation and pictures and video have been taken but at the moment we are not disclosing what exactly.’
A source at the hotel said: ‘Noises had been heard coming from the room and then a chamber maid saw the woman emerge half naked, with blood on her and screaming for help.
‘That’s when the alarm was raised and the police and paramedics were called. The man was on the floor and despite attempts to save him he was declared dead at the scene.’
Emergency services vehicles gathered outside the hotel yesterday after the tragic death
Ex-rugby star Rickey was working as an estate agent after retiring. Pictured playing for Wakefield Trinity Wildcats against Catalans Dragons in 2009
Mr Bibey is reported to have worked as an estate agent in the years following his retirement, and had previously run a development company.
Bibey’s former team, Wakefield Trinity, wrote on Twitter this morning: ‘Trinity are saddened to hear of the passing of former prop-forward Ricky Bibey, aged 40. We send our condolences to Ricky’s family and friends at this tough time.’
Leigh East, where Bibey started playing as a junior, also paid their respects.
A club spokesperson tweeted: ‘All at the club are saddened to hear about the death of our former junior Ricky Bibey who passed away on holiday.
‘Ricky played professionally for a number of clubs including Leigh, Wigan, St Helens and Wakefield. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time.’
The Foreign Office said: ‘We are in touch with the Italian police following the death of a British man in Florence.’
Paramedics raced to the hotel, a stone’s throw from the famous Ponte Vecchio bridge.
Police said they’re still trying to determine the exact cause of death and injury to the woman. Pictured, police at the scene
The woman was taken to the city’s Careggi hospital where she was said to be in a serious but stable condition.
The couple had only arrived at the hotel on Friday night and the alarm was raised early on Saturday morning.
A police source told MailOnline: ‘The people involved are both British and at the moment we are working on two theories an erotic game that went wrong or some sort of domestic argument, but the general direction is that of an erotic game.
‘The man was found with a series of cuts, bruises and other injuries on his body and so was the woman, although she was more seriously hurt and the man appears to have had some sort of seizure.
The hotel is a few minutes’ walk from the heart of the city which is popular with British tourists
Investigators consult their notes as they probe the death and injury at the swish hotel
Police said yesterday that forensic teams are working at the hotel (Continentale suite pictured)
‘There is blood in the room and the forensic teams are working there at the moment while the woman has been taken to hospital for treatment.
‘Her current condition is serious but she is stable and her injuries are not life-threatening. We hope to question her at some point in the next few hours.’
Sources said the couple were from Manchester and ran an upmarket estate agent and they had arrived at the hotel late Friday night.
The pair went out shortly after arriving on Friday and returned just before 2am on Saturday with witnesses saying they were in ‘high spirits’.
Police sources said the woman had children through a previous relationship but was not married to the man who died.