An 18-year-old has been jailed for murdering a fellow sixth former by repeatedly stabbing her in the neck the day after she split up with him so she could focus on her studies. Thomas Griffiths murdered Ellie Gould, a talented 17-year-old student and horse rider, at her family home in Calne, Wiltshire. She suffered at…
An 18-year-old has been jailed for murdering a fellow sixth former by repeatedly stabbing her in the neck the day after she split up with him so she could focus on her studies.
Thomas Griffiths murdered Ellie Gould, a talented 17-year-old student and horse rider, at her family home in Calne, Wiltshire. She suffered at least 13 stab wounds.
Griffiths, who was also 17 at the time, was jailed for life, with a minimum sentence of 12 years and six months, at Bristol crown court on Friday.
After the killing in May, Griffiths tried to clean up the scene, then went home and put the clothes he was wearing in the washing machine and hid bloodstained items. Ellie’s father, Matthew, found the teenager’s body later the same day when he arrived home.
Detectives say the pair began a relationship in January, but Ellie, who had ambitions of becoming a police officer, wanted to focus on her studies and felt the relationship was not right for her. She told friends on 2 May that they had split up.
On 3 May, Griffiths’s mother dropped him off at Hardenhuish school in Chippenham, where both he and Ellie were sixth formers, but he told his teachers he was ill and returned home.
His mother arrived at home unexpectedly and he hid in a wardrobe until she had left, then – illegally – drove to Ellie’s home, where she was studying.
Griffiths later told police they were intending to work together but began arguing. He said he placed his hands on her neck but could not recall what happened next.
He claimed the next thing he remembered was coming round to discover Ellie had been stabbed. He tried to clean up the scene and drove back to his house. A plastic bag containing bloodstained items he had removed from Ellie’s house was later found by police a nine-minute walk from his home.
After he returned home, a neighbour saw Griffiths had scratch marks to his neck. The teenager claimed he was self-harming. The neighbour drove him into Hardenhuish, where he was cared for by staff because he was clearly upset before his mother picked him up.
Griffiths has been described by police as a good student who had never been in trouble before.
Ellie’s family previously paid tribute to the keen horse rider and animal lover as “fun-loving and a joy to be around”. They said she had thought of trying to join the police’s mounted division.
Griffiths pleaded guilty to murder in August, at which point reporting restrictions that had prevented the media from naming him were lifted because of the grave nature of the crime.
Ellie’s family and friends packed the court to hear Griffiths being sentenced.
Richard Smith QC, prosecuting, said Ellie had told friends she felt suffocated by Griffith’s attentions.
He said Griffiths’ claim that they had studied together that day were undermined by the lack of revision folders left out when her body was found.
Smith said: “Griffiths became angry, perhaps by Ellie’s continued rejection of him and he attacked her.” The prosecutor added: “A postmortem examination indicated that Ellie was first incapacitated by pressure having been applied to her neck.
“Thereafter, multiple knife wounds were inflicted. There are at least 13 wounds inflicted, with the knife focused mainly around the area of the left neck.The knife that was used to kill Ellie was one that was taken from the family kitchen.”
Smith said Griffiths had attempted to clean up the murder scene with cloths he later hid in a wood near his home. He also tried to make it appear that Ellie had killed herself.
Blood-staining on an apron suggests Griffiths wiped the knife before placing it back in Ellie’s neck. “The defendant must have placed his victim’s own hand on the handle of the knife,” Smith said. “No doubt to make it look as though she, Ellie, had inflicted the wounds on herself.”
Smith said Griffiths’ explanation about how he got scratches to his own neck were lies. “In truth, the injuries to the defendant’s neck and to his hand were nothing to do with self-infliction but very much more likely the product of his young victim having fought for her life as she was attacked,” Smith said.
In a victim personal statement, Ellie’s father told the court: “The image of Ellie lying there on the floor has haunted me ever since that afternoon. It fills my thoughts when trying to sleep and hijacks my mind when trying to go about my day.”