Rickey Bibey was found dead in the hotel room close to the Ponte del Vecchio.  Photo taken while playing for Wigan Warriors in 2003

Ex-rugby league star Ricky Bibey found dead at hotel in Florence alongside injured woman

Rickey Bibey was found dead in the hotel room close to the Ponte del Vecchio. Photo taken while playing 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-athlete, who retired from the game in 2012, died yesterday morning.

The 40-year-old has made 215 appearances for five rugby league teams, including three spells at hometown club Leigh Centurions.

Bibey was identified by the police, according to local newspaper La Nazione.

He is believed to have arrived in the quaint town with a woman on Friday evening and they returned to the Hotel Continentale “in good spirits” at 2am on Saturday.

The woman was reportedly found bloody and bruised before being taken to hospital.

Today, police sources in Florence told MailOnline they hope to question the woman tonight or no later than tomorrow morning.

An insider said: ‘She is recovering but is still sedated so we are awaiting the all clear from the medical staff at the hospital.

“She hasn’t been arrested and it won’t be a formal questioning, it’s more about trying to figure out what happened in the room.

“The hope was that an autopsy would be carried out on the man today, but that will now happen on Monday.

“This will establish alcohol levels and whether drugs were present, but at the moment all we know for sure is that no third parties were involved. We are satisfied with it.

Italian media reported that a “type of truncheon” was recovered from the couple’s bedroom on the first floor along with “other items”.

The source added: ‘Obviously items were removed from the room, as with any investigation, and photos and video were taken, but at this time we are not disclosing exactly what.’

A source at the hotel said: ‘Noise had been heard coming out of the room and then a maid saw the woman 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 ground and despite attempts to save him, he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Emergency service vehicles gathered outside the hotel yesterday after the tragic death

Emergency service vehicles gathered outside the hotel yesterday after the tragic death

Ex-rugby star Rickey worked as an estate agent after retiring.  Pictured playing for Wakefield Trinity Wildcats against the Catalans Dragons in 2009

Ex-rugby star Rickey worked as an estate agent after retiring. Pictured playing for Wakefield Trinity Wildcats against the Catalans Dragons in 2009

Mr Bibey is said to have worked as a real estate agent in the years after his retirement and previously ran a development company.

Bibey’s former side Wakefield Trinity wrote on Twitter this morning: “Trinity is saddened to learn of the passing of former striker Ricky Bibey, 40. We send our condolences to the family and friends of Ricky at this difficult time.”

Leigh East, where Bibey started playing as a junior, also paid tribute.

A club spokesperson tweeted: “All members of the club are saddened to learn of the passing of our former junior Ricky Bibey who passed away on holiday.

“Ricky has 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 contact with the Italian police following the death of a Briton in Florence.

Paramedics rushed to the hotel, a stone’s throw from the famous Ponte Vecchio bridge.

Police said they are still trying to determine the exact cause of the woman's death and injuries.  Pictured are police at the scene

Police said they are still trying to determine the exact cause of the woman’s death and injuries. Pictured are police at the scene

The woman was taken to Careggi Hospital in the city where she is believed to be in serious but stable condition.

The couple had only arrived at the hotel on Friday evening and the alarm had been raised early on Saturday morning.

A law enforcement source told MailOnline: ‘Those involved are both British and at the moment we are working on two theories, an erotic game gone wrong or some sort of domestic dispute, but the general direction is that of a erotic game”.

“The man was found with a series of cuts, bruises and other injuries to his body, as was the woman, although she was more seriously injured and the man appears to have had some sort of crisis.

The hotel is a few minutes walk from the heart of the city, popular with British tourists

The hotel is a few minutes walk from the heart of the city, popular with British tourists

Investigators consult their notes as they investigate the death and injuries at the swish hotel

Investigators consult their notes as they investigate the death and injuries at the swish hotel

Police said yesterday that forensic teams were working at the hotel (Continental Suite pictured)

Police said yesterday that forensic teams were working at the hotel (Continental Suite pictured)

“There is blood in the room and forensic teams are working on it at the moment while the woman was taken to hospital for treatment.

“Her current condition is serious but she is stable and her injuries are not life threatening. We hope to interview him at some point in the next few hours.

Sources said the couple were from Manchester and ran a high-end estate agency and arrived at the hotel late on Friday evening.

The couple walked out shortly after arriving on Friday and returned just before 2am on Saturday with witnesses saying they were in “good spirits”.

Police sources said the woman had children in a previous relationship, but was not married to the deceased man.


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