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Former rugby star Ricky Bibey died of a heart attack during a frenzied assault on his partner while in a hotel room in Italy, a source claims.
Police were called to the Hotel Continentale in Florence after a UK citizen, later identified as the retired rugby league player, was discovered dead after a suspected seizure or heart attack at 8am local time on Saturday, July 16.
Bibey, 40, was pronounced dead while a woman, reported to be his partner, was rushed to hospital with serious injuries.
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It transpired that it was indeed his partner, 44-year-old successful estate agent Jennie Platt, who allegedly suffered a "shocking and violent assault", according to her lawyer.
Platt was rushed to hospital where she needed three operations after she was viciously beaten up at the £350-a-night four-star hotel.
Prosecutors investigating the attack had to wait more than a week to talk to the mother of two, who has now been discharged from hospital, because of the state 17-stone Bibey left her in.
Speaking exclusively to MailOnline, a family friend said: "Jennie is devastated. She is the victim of a shocking and violent attack in the hotel room at the hands of the man she had a long-term relationship with.
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"She is a strong woman who runs a successful business and is desperately trying to come to terms with what has happened to her, and Ricky's actions before his death."
The friend added that the pair, both from Manchester, had been together for three years and were in Florence to aid in Ricky's recovery from a "downturn" in his mental health.
"It will be difficult for people to hear as Ricky was well liked and respected in the rugby league fraternity, but Jennie is lucky to be with us after the attack," the friend said.
A police source in Florence told MailOnline that the former rugby star had "taken cocaine and alcohol in the hours leading up to his death."
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