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Ellie Gould: The tragic Calne teenager whose dreams were stolen

Thomas Griffiths and Ellie Gould

A-levels, school proms, horse riding; Ellie Gould was a happy and busy 17-year-old who wanted to go to university.

Her parents were successful business people, she had lots of friends, even her own pony, and Ellie was enjoying sixth form at Hardenhuish School in Chippenham - so much that she told her parents she didn't want to leave.

We would like Ellie to be remembered as a kind, caring young lady with a wonderful fun personality.

– Carole and Matthew Gould, Ellie's parents
Ellie's Instagram page

Ellie also had a boyfriend, Tom, whose name proudly appears on her Instagram page, accompanied by a pink heart.

Tom was 17-year-old Thomas Griffiths, a classmate of Ellie's at Hardenhuish School.

He was described as an "outstanding" pupil: a school prefect who swam at international level and played rugby at county level. Like Ellie, Griffiths came from a stable and loving family, and he too was a popular and apparently normal teenager.

Normal that is, until Ellie told him she wanted to end their relationship to focus on exams. There was no indication what was to happen next.

A day after the couple broke up - Friday 3 May 2019 - Thomas Griffiths and his mother left their home in Derry Hill to drive to school as usual. But unknown to his mother, Griffiths had no intention of going to lessons.

Griffiths was dropped off at school by his mother - but quickly got on a bus back home again to visit Ellie. Credit: Wiltshire Police

Instead CCTV shows him catching a bus in Chippenham, and travelling straight back home to his empty house in Derry Hill.

From there Griffiths drove the two and a half miles to Ellie's home on Springfield Drive in Calne where she was alone doing schoolwork.

Police only have his word for what happened next.

He says the pair of them were studying at the kitchen table, and were having a conversation, and for some reason - a reason that he won't tell us - they fell out and a heated argument then began.

He says he got quite angry, and he remembers putting his hands around Eleanor's neck. The next bit he then says he can't remember.

– DI Jim Taylor, Wiltshire Police

It later emerged Griffiths stabbed Ellie in the neck 13 times with a kitchen knife.

Following the murder, he wiped the knife, put it back in her neck and placed her hand round it, in an effort to make it look as though she had taken her own life.

After attempting to clean up, he drove back home to Derry Hill, where he handed the clothes he wore to his mother to wash. He then dumped a bin bag of blood-stained rags in a wood near his home.

Not able to face up to what you had done, you then attempted to cover up this dreadful crime. Your efforts were not remotely sophisticated and were never going to work, but they demonstrate that your thoughts after this attack were centred on yourself, not the innocent young woman you had just killed.

– Mr Justice Garnham
Griffiths dumped blood-stained rags in a bin bag on the side of a footpath Credit: Wiltshire Police

He was taken back to school by an unsuspecting neighbour, who was concerned about how anxious the teenager appeared.

Griffiths had scratches on his neck, left by Ellie as she fought for her life. Before his school friends could ask awkward questions, Griffiths put out an explanation on Snapchat.

He had been self-harming, he said:

Griffith blamed the scratches on his face on self harm

One worried friend does her best to be supportive:

Griffiths had a conversation with a concerned friend on Snap Chat

While Griffiths was lying to his classmates, Ellie's father arrived home in Calne to find his daughter dead on the kitchen floor.

Matthew Gould described what he came home to as the "most frightening, horrific and saddest scene I have ever witnessed". A scene, he says, that "hijacks" his thoughts and has "haunted" him since.

He said: "Her brutal end plays on my mind constantly."

There was nothing the ambulance crew could do for Ellie.

In any murder investigation, we would always look closely at the people around the murder victim.

And anyone in a recently-ended relationship would always be a person of interest to us, purely because based on statistics, we know that a lot of homicides, certainly domestic homicides, are committed by people they know.

– DI Jim Taylor, Wiltshire Police

Police arrested Griffiths at a friend's house in Chippenham that same evening.

He denied having anything to do with Ellie's death, but after three days of questioning at Melksham Police Station he was charged with her murder.

In August, he pleaded guilty at Bristol Crown Court. Today (8 November) Thomas Griffths, now 18, was sentenced to life in prison, with a minimum term of 12 and a half years.

Mr Justice Garnham, described the murder as "the most appalling attack on this defenceless girl". He said that there is "no more dreadful scene for any parent to contemplate" than that which Ellie's parents were confronted with.

In a letter written to the judge, Griffiths expressed his "heartfelt remorse" for his "irrational and unforgivable actions".

Ellie's mother Carol spoke of her "unimaginable pain" in a victim impact statement read to the court.

Mrs Gould said she had "invited him into their house, sat him at their table and even celebrated [Ellie's] 17th birthday with him".

She described her heartbreak and devastation as she said: "No mother should ever have to hold the cold hand of a murdered child."