A teenage boy who stabbed his ex-girlfriend to death after she ended their relationship tried to subject her to “coercive control” before murdering her, a review has found.
An independent review found "no agency failings" in the case of a 17-year-old Ellie Gould, who was stabbed to death by her ex-boyfriend Thomas Griffiths in 2019.
But the review found he tried to inflict "educational sabotage" - a form of coercive control - onto her.
Despite her efforts to fight him off, she died at the scene.
Griffiths - who was 17 at the time of the killing - went on to stage the scene to look like a suicide and returned to school. He was sentenced to 12 and a half years in prison after admitting murder.
The results of an independent review into the case have today (November 25) been released.
It found there were no agency failings or shortcomings, although its recommendations included promoting the support available for young people in Wiltshire concerned about domestic abuse or controlling behaviour.
The review found that, at face value, the murder appeared to have happened ‘out of the blue’, but said there were some indicators of coercion and control disclosed to friends and mother in the last week of Ellie’s life.
A friend of Ellie's said they had a conversation over FaceTime the day before she was killed in which Ellie said she had spoken to Griffiths saying she wanted a break from their relationship but that he would not accept that.
The report states no person or agency was aware of any prior domestic abuse and a range of local domestic abuse services for people over 16 years old were available to Ellie had she wanted the help.
But it did say young people can often be unaware of the services available to them.
The review noted how the killer tried to disrupt Ellie’s study attempts, a form of behaviour known as “educational sabotage”, which is a "less known form of coercive control".
The review stated: “In this case, the perpetrator appeared to be disrupting Ellie’s studying during an important period of revision, displayed insecurities and appeared to be inducing guilt.
“Ellie sought a break from the perpetrator during their revision for mock A-level exams, but the perpetrator appeared not to accept this."
It described educational sabotage as “a less known form of coercive control and economic abuse which disrupts a victim’s ability to gain educational qualifications and furthers a perpetrator’s power and control over them”.
The review found both Ellie and Thomas Griffiths participated in Relationships and Sex Education in the school they both attended. It further found the school managed disclosure of domestic abuse sensitively and gave clear routes to further professional support for young people affected if they came forward.
The review made a number of recommendations, including further raising awareness of indicators of abuse in young people’s relationships for agencies as well as families and friends.
Ellie’s friends have since campaigned for self-defence classes to be part of the school curriculum.
Her family has also successfully campaigned for changes to youth sentencing, introducing a law which allows sentences for perpetrators of domestic homicide between the ages of 10 to 17 to be based upon the age of the offender.