THE partner of former British rugby league player Ricky Bibey ran screaming into the hotel hallway covered in blood, reports in Italy have claimed.
Bibey, 40, was found dead in the £350-a-night Hotel Continentale in the Italian city of Florence on Saturday.
He had arrived in Tuscany with his partner from Manchester a day earlier.
The unnamed woman, a 44-year-old who owned a real estate agency in Manchester with Bibey, was reportedly found semi-naked in the hotel hallway covered in blood.
A cleaner discovered the woman screaming for help, saw the blood-smeared hotel room, and raised the alarm.
The woman was rushed to Florence’s Careggi hospital where she underwent surgery for a haemorrhage.
She remains in intensive care, but police are expecting to speak to her today.
A police source told The Sun today that the woman suffered serious blood loss and needed emergency surgery which left her too weak to meet officers yesterday.
Italian publication Il Gazzettino reports that the couple arrived at the hotel on Friday, July 15 before heading out in the evening, returning to the swish four-star hotel in “high spirits” at around 2am.
Hotel staff were alerted by shouting and screaming in the room just before 8am Saturday local time, according to Corriere Della Sera.
Ricky’s body was discovered lifeless on the hotel room floor.
Toxicology tests will be carried out on both Bibey and his partner.
Il Gazzettino further reports that there are no signs of injury or trauma on Bibey’s body, but that a full autopsy will be carried out.
Police said their main theory was that Ricky suffered some kind of seizure during a sex game which went wrong but didn’t rule out domestic abuse as inquiries continued.
Officers confirmed an object had been taken from the room for forensic examination.
Coroner Martina Focardi ruled out the involvement of any third parties, as well as the presence of any drug residues inside the hotel room, as quoted in Leggo.
A source close to the investigation said: “Mr Bibey had no obvious sign of an injury that could have caused his death and no third person was involved.
“Samples were taken to establish whether drugs, Viagra or other substances were present.”
A great lad. Absolutely devastating news
The couple – who reportedly have a successful real estate company in Manchester, had visited Italy on several occasions, according to Corriere Della Sera.
Ricky, who was born in Leigh near Wigan, Greater Manchester, made his professional rugby league debut in 2001 for Wigan Warriors, also making appearances for Leigh Centurions, St Helens and Wakefield Trinity.
He won the Challenge Cup twice and also played on three occasions for England in international competitions, before being forced to retire early in May 2012 due to an achilles tendon injury.
The prop Ricky, who lived in an £800,000 home in Prestwich, Greater Manchester, had been running a window cleaning business and property venture since retiring.
Hotel Continentale is just 30 yards from the famous Ponte Vecchio close to the heart of the historic Renaissance city.
Travel guides describe the plush riverside hostelry as “playfully chic” boasting its own rooftop bar and spa aimed at “honeymooners and those looking for a romantic weekend”.
Leigh Centurions paid tribute to the player on Twitter, saying the “popular” player had died “while on holiday in Italy”.
St Helens posted: “We are saddened to hear of the passing of former Saint Ricky Bibey. Ricky played 21 times for us and was part of the 2004 Challenge Cup winning squad that defeated Wigan. All our thoughts are with Ricky’s friends and family at this terrible time.”
Fellow former rugby league star Leon Pryce tweeted: “Sincere condolences to Ricky’s family. We played against each other since the age of about 14… A great lad. Absolutely devastating news.”