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HomeUKGracie Spinks inquest: Police say stalker killed failing woman

Gracie Spinks inquest: Police say stalker killed failing woman

  • Gracie Spinks Stalking Tragedy
  • Police Failures Acknowledged
  • Jury Highlights Deficiencies

A woman who was fatally stabbed by a former colleague who had stalked her has been deemed to have been failed by a police force.

After a jury found Gracie Spinks guilty of unlawful death, Derbyshire Police apologised to her family.

The 23-year-old was assassinated in Duckmanton, Derbyshire, by Michael Sellers on June 18, 2021, while she was attending to her horse. Self-immolation ensued for Sellers.

The family of Miss Spinks stated that the authorities exhibited “complete incompetence.”

Miss Spinks had filed a police complaint several months prior to her death, alleging that Sellers was “obsessed” with her and waiting for her near the field where she perished.

Gracie Spinks inquest: Police say stalker killed failing woman

The police did not investigate the satchel of weapons discovered by two dog walkers that belonged to Sellers. Rather, they classified it as “found property.”

An employee of the superintendent murdered Gracie.

Det Supt Darren De’ath, speaking after the jury reached its verdict, stated: “Throughout the inquest, it has become abundantly obvious that there were substantial deficiencies in both Gracie’s account of stalking and the manner in which the discovery of the weapon bag was managed.

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We failed Gracie as a unit, and I apologise on behalf of the force and myself.

Juror Critiques and Family Responses

In remembrance of Miss Spinks, the ten jurors donned wristbands in the hues of pink and purple.

The foreman stated, in reference to Sellers as “the supervisor,” “The supervisor was responsible for Gracie’s death.”

The jury, in their verdict, enumerated several deficiencies on the part of the police but stated they were unable to establish a causal link between these and Miss Spinks’s demise.

Sajad Chaudhury, the family’s attorney, replied, “In accordance with the family’s perspective, their shortcomings did indeed play a role.” Nevertheless, the verdict of the jury and the court are both respected.

Richard Spinks, the father of Miss Spinks, stated outside of Chesterfield Coroner’s Court: “Derbyshire Police let down Gracie, us, and we sincerely hope they do not let down anyone else.

They must indeed alter their operational structure from the top down.

He further stated, “They appeared to be in a hurry to complete the task, handle the bag, or handle the complaint, then put it away and forget about it.” A lack of investigation ensued.

It is simply abject incompetence.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) previously ordered five police officers to explain their misconduct.

In November 2022, Derbyshire Police convened disciplinary proceedings against the police constable and sergeant who interacted with Miss Spinks regarding Sellers.

Nevertheless, the accusations were deemed unsubstantiated.

Discipline proceedings were also initiated against the two police officers who handled the bag containing the firearms in November 2022.

“A child’s game”

Both received written warnings for violating police professional conduct rules.

As a result of his retirement, the sergeant who oversaw the two constables could not be held accountable.

The three officers, according to the IOPC, “told us they did not find the contents of the bag concerning,” with one officer remarking that the items resembled “a child’s game.”

Assistant coroner for Derby and Derbyshire Matthew Kewley has stated that he will provide the chief constable of Derbyshire Police with a report on the prevention of future deaths that details his concerns and requests action from the force.

He planned to distribute his findings nationwide, citing the lack of surveillance advocates in other law enforcement agencies.

The inquest has been informed that Miss Spinks encountered Sellers in April 2020, when she began working at Xbite, a Chesterfield-based e-commerce company, during a furlough from her position as a swimming instructor.

Despite her unawareness, Sellers, employed since 2015, had shown interest in coworkers.

Juror Findings on Stalking

The jurors concluded in their verdicts that Miss Spinks and Sellers “had a brief, nonromantic friendship.”

According to them, Miss Spinks “gently severed that friendship” on December 16, 2020.

The jury stated, “The supervisor did not accept Gracie’s decision.”

He persisted in communicating with her and exploited his professional authority by requesting that others conduct surveillance on her.

The jury decided that Sellers’s January 4, 2021 parking in a layby near her horse Paddy “distressed and upset” her.

She informed Xbite, which subsequently dismissed Sellers following a formal investigation and suspension of the employee.

Later, Miss Spinks informed the police about Sellers.

Her report was initially “identified as a real and immediate risk,” according to the jurors, which prompted an investigation.

The defendants and Miss Spinks engaged in a “verbal conversation” as a consequence, and “the stalking case was dismissed as low risk,” according to the verdicts of the jurors.

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