Parents of Gracie Spinks welcome stalking report

Gracie was attacked as she tended her horse in 2021. Credit: Family handout

The parents of a woman who was killed by her stalker after police missed multiple opportunities to stop him say the "winds of change have finally begun to blow".

Gracie Spinks, 23, was attacked by 35-year-old Michael Sellers as she tended her horse in Duckmanton, near Chesterfield, Derbyshire, on 18 June 2021.

Sellers' body was found a short distance away following his suicide.

After an inquest jury returned a conclusion of unlawful killing in November, the coroner issued a Prevention of Future Deaths Report.

Matthew Kewley said there was a "postcode lottery" for stalking victims looking for a police response, citing was a lack of consistency in forces' abilities to investigate stalking reports nationwide.

He added that more needed to be done to improve knowledge around the offence following the death of Ms Spinks.

Responding to the report, Derbyshire Constabulary said it had made a number of improvements since Gracie's death.

Chief Constable Rachel Swann said: "As a force, we are committed to improving our staff’s understanding and identification of stalking and vulnerability.

"Since the inquest, we have reviewed and refreshed the content of our training on stalking as part of the force’s vulnerability programme."

Home Secretary James Cleverley also responded to the coroner's report, saying: "Stalking is an appalling crime that has a devastating impact on victims and this is something the government takes extremely seriously."

Gracie Spinks was described as ‘fun, happy, outgoing and hardworking’ by the coroner Credit: Family handout/PA

Gracie's parents, Richard Spinks and Alison Ward welcomed the responses.

In a statement they said: "The winds of change have finally begun to blow through policing.Gracie in life and death has helped to create a better world."

Speaking to ITV News Ms Ward said police had "pulled their socks up" but added: "We're not going to draw a line under this just because the report is out."

Mr Spinks said: "Gracie's case has just been so unique and so special. Everyone has been interested in it and I think that sums up the person Gracie was. She had that special gift of connecting with people and I think that goes through even down a camera lens and I think it's made people stand up and say we can't have another girl die in this way."

"Don't respond to your stalker's texts. Don't sit there and respond. Do something about it", he added.

Alison Ward and Richard Spinks, parents of Gracie Credit: Callum Parke/PA

A court previously heard how she had logged her initial stalking complaint four months before her death.

In a phone call to police, she said her co-worker had become "obsessed with her" after she told him she did not want a relationship with him.

"As soon as I called it off he was getting weirder and weirder," she can be heard telling the call handler in the recording.

She describes Sellers as a "complete weirdo" and says: "I'm just worried that the next time it happens to someone else it could be worse... he might kidnap someone."

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