Five Derbyshire Police officers have a case to answer for misconduct over the investigation into the death of keen horse rider Gracie Spinks, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said.
The 23-year-old victim is believed to have been killed in Duckmanton, Derbyshire, by 35-year-old Michael Sellars, whom she had reported to Derbyshire Police in February for stalking.
The IOPC said that, based on the evidence assessed, it concluded two officers have a case to answer for misconduct in relation to the stalking investigation.
The IOPC said the decisions were made after considering whether the force complied with its safeguarding obligations to Ms Spinks and whether its investigation into the stalking matter was carried out in accordance with relevant police guidelines and policies.
A further three officers have a case to answer in relation to the discovery of a bag containing a hammer, an axe and some knives close to where Ms Spinks died, the watchdog added.
What happened to Gracie Spinks?
Gracie was found dead in a field near Staveley Road in Duckmanton, at around 8:40am on June 18, 2021, in a field where she had gone to tend to her horse in Derbyshire.
She is believed to have been killed by 35-year-old Michael Sellars, whom she had reported to Derbyshire Police for stalking in February last year.
The body of her suspected stalker and killer - Sellars - was found half a mile away.
Gracie had complained to police about his actions, her parents say
Last year, her father Richard Spinks said Sellars had been "pestering" her for messages and had asked her work colleagues "where she had been and what she had been doing."
"She did make a complaint to the police. She made a complaint to her workplace and they advised her to tell the police that he had been bothering her," Mr Spinks said.
Her parents also said the police took a statement from Gracie but they don't know if they "followed it up" with him.
In May - weeks before Gracie died - a member of the public had handed in a bag of weapons they had found in the area.
Gracie's mother Alison said: "This bag had been found across the road and handed into the police and again we don't know what the police did with that but they did not join up the dots - the fact that Gracie had made a complaint and that bag was found across the road from her horse field."
The IOPC said based on the evidence assessed, it was concluded two officers have a case to answer in relation to the stalking investigation and a further three officers have a case to answer in relation to the discovery of a bag containing a hammer, an axe and some knives discovered close to where Ms Spinks died.
Disciplinary proceedings are to be brought against each officer in the form of a misconduct meeting, the IOPC added.
IOPC Regional Director, Derrick Campbell said: “Our investigation was thorough and considered a wide range of evidence and have determined five officers have a case to answer for misconduct. It will now be for the force to arrange misconduct meetings.
"Due to an impending inquest, it would be inappropriate for us to share any further details at this time.
"We will publish our findings once these proceedings have concluded.""We have kept Gracie’s family informed and have shared the results of our investigation with them. Our thoughts remain with them ahead of the first anniversary of Gracie’s death."
Labour MP for Chesterfield, Toby Perkins, previously called for stalking victims to be the "law’s utmost priority" following Ms Spinks’s death.
Speaking to ITV News in January, Gracie's mother, Alison, said they have been inspired by support from the public after the petition received over 105,000 signatures.
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