Gracie Spinks' parents draw Jill Dando comparisons ahead of ITV documentary Stalking: State of Fear

Jill Dando/Gracie Spinks
The parents of Gracie Spinks have drawn comparisons with the case of Jill Dando.

The parents of a woman killed by her stalker say "we are no further on" since Jill Dando's death 25 years earlier.

Gracie Spinks was 23 when she was stabbed to death by Michael Sellers in 2021, four months after she had initially reported him to Derbyshire Police after he became obsessed with her.

Officers had warned Sellers to stay away from Gracie, but failed to act when a bag of weapons was found close to the stables where she kept her horse Paddy.

She was found in the field near Staveley Road in Duckmanton, near Chesterfield, and pronounced dead at the scene.

Sellers' body was found a short distance away after he killed himself.

Michael Sellers

Gracie's story features in a new documentary, Stalking: State of Fear, to be broadcast on ITV1 at 9pm on Tuesday.

Her parents Richard Spinks and Alison Ward allowed cameras to film the events surrounding their daughter's murder and the inquest into her death.

They said continuing to tell her story was a crucial step towards protecting others.

Ms Ward said: "Last week was the anniversary of Jill Dando's murder – and that was a stalking case – and to think here we are 25 years on... and we are no further on in how stalking is dealt with.

"I am glad we have done [the documentary]. It lets people know we will keep fighting for change."

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

Broadcaster and journalist Jill Dando was 37 when she was shot dead outside her home in London in 1999.

Her murder sparked one of the largest criminal investigations in the UK since the search for the Yorkshire ripper - but the case remains unsolved.

However, one theory was that an obsessed stalker was behind the killing.

Derbyshire Police, which apologised for its failings in Gracie's case, has introduced specialist staff to deal with stalking complaints.

Richard and Alison are now working with them to train new and current officers in the hope they can bring about that change in Gracie's name.

Mr Spinks said : "We are wanting more recognition of stalking . Every case should be high risk and then work down from there.

"We want more training for officers across the board and more funding is always welcome and for forces to realise the severity of stalking and to deal with every case and investigate."

  • Alison Ward reacts to hearing the 999 call Gracie made about Michael Sellers

The documentary, which is part of ITV's Exposure series, also features the accounts of other stalking victims.

Mr Spinks said: "Its going on all the time. Its a big problem. It's astonishing actually."

He described the documentary as a "tough but powerful" watch and hopes people tuning in will get a better understanding of the issue.

He added: "We hope a lot of people will watch it and learn more about stalking and what they can do, especially young girls and women.

"We hope to get the information out there and make them think, yes, I should go to the police because A,B and C has happened. That's the message we want and I would like all police officers and all police forces to watch that tonight."

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