Domestic killers to get tougher sentences after campaign from murder victims' mothers

  • ITV West Country sits down with Carole Gould

The Government has announced new sentencing guidelines for domestic murders to include longer sentences for killers who have a history of coercive or controlling behaviour and murderers who use excessive violence.

The changes come after an independent review of sentencing and following a campaign by two West Country mothers whose daughters were killed by abusive former boyfriends. They have united to push for tougher sentences.

Ellie Gould, 17, was murdered in 2019 in her family home by an ex-boyfriend Thomas Griffiths. He used a knife he found at the home to kill her.

Griffiths, who was 17 at the time, was given a minimum prison term of 12 and a half years.

Ever since her death, Ellie's mother Carole Gould has been campaigning for longer prison sentences for killings like this.

She described the outcome of the review as a "positive start" but wants to see more detail.

She told ITV News West Country starting sentences be set at 25 years.

"At the moment they’re only proposing that it will be an aggravating factor," she said. "From the experience that we’ve had when the judge sentenced Thomas Griffiths, there were six heinous aggravating factors but it only amounted to adding five years to the sentence.

“He came to our house, he put his hands around Ellie’s neck, he strangled her first, she was fighting back desperately trying to get him off, scratching his face but he wouldn’t stop.

“He then reached and grabbed a knife and then he stabbed her 13 times in the neck. If that wasn’t bad enough he then washed the knife in the sink to wash his DNA off of it, put it back into Ellie’s hand and reinserted into her neck to make it look like she killed herself.

Ellie Gould was murdered by ex-boyfriend Thomas Griffiths Credit: Wiltshire Police

"He just wiped up and walked out as though nothing had happened for Ellie’s dad to come home and find her on the kitchen floor.

“Somebody that’s capable of doing that is a very dangerous individual and this is a public protection issue. We don’t want dangerous criminals like that out on the street. They are particularly dangerous towards women and we want robust sentencing to reflect that.”

Carole has been campaigning with Julie Devey, a Somerset mother whose daughter was murdered by her ex-boyfriend and has long campaigned to get domestic murder sentences increased.

Poppy Devey Waterhouse, 24, was killed in the Leeds flat she shared with 25-year-old Joe Atkinson in 2018. He stabbed Poppy more than 70 times using a knife from their kitchen.

Poppy Devey Waterhouse was brutally murdered by her ex-boyfriend Credit: West Yorkshire Police

In announcing changes to guidelines for sentencing ministers have praised the two mothers for their campaign.

Justice Minister Edward Argar said: “Julie Devey and Carole Gould have campaigned bravely and tirelessly after the awful killing of their daughters, Poppy and Ellie, and the Government is determined to see an end to murders and violence by abusive partners.

“No one should ever feel unsafe in their own home, and we will continue working with Julie and Carole and others to make further progress in tackling the dreadful crime of domestic abuse.”

The initial review into sentencing for domestic killers was commissioned by South Swindon MP Sir Robert Buckland when he was Justice Secretary and was due to be concluded in 2021 but there have been delays to the review due to 'a number of important and complex issues'.