'They let her down': Woman 'killed by stalker' was failed by police, family say

19 October 2021, 17:34 | Updated: 19 October 2021, 17:36

Gracie Spinks' family have spoken out on what would have been her 24th birthday.
Gracie Spinks' family have spoken out on what would have been her 24th birthday. Picture: Alamy/ Family handout

By Megan Hinton

A woman thought to have been killed by a colleague she had previously reported for stalking was “let down” by police, her family has said.

Gracie Spinks, 23, was found unconscious at her horse stable in Duckmanton with fatal stab wounds on June 18.

The body of 35-year-old Michael Sellers, who is believed to be Ms Spinks' former supervisor, was found in a nearby field just hours later.

Now Ms Spinks' parents have hit out at police for letting their daughter down “big time” after they claim she reported Sellers to police for stalking four months earlier.

Following their daughter's death, Ms Spinks' parents have been campaigning for Gracie's Law, a government funding pledge to give every police force a dedicated point of contact for stalking complaints.

Speaking to Sky News, Ms Spinks' mother Alison Heaton said: "A guy who Gracie had previously reported to the police for stalking her approached her that morning and murdered her."

She added: "It's just really frustrating because we've got no answers, it's just dragging on, we just want some answers."

Her family later discovered that a bag containing knives, an axe, a hammer and a note saying "don't lie" had been found close to the stables, six weeks before Ms Spinks' death, which was then handed to police.

"This bag of weapons had been handed in on May 6 and as far as we know the police didn't act on it and join up the dots basically from Gracie's complaints," her mother said.

Richard Spinks, Gracie’s father, claimed that if Derbyshire Police had warned her about that find, he could have protected her.

"We wouldn't have let her go anywhere on her own after that, so that's the view that I've got: I think they let her down big time," he said.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said it was continuing to investigate prior police contact between Gracie Spinks and Derbyshire Police before her death.

Derbyshire Police said it was assisting the area coroner with their investigations into the deaths of Ms Spinks and Mr Sellers, and the case remained with the IOPC.

Meanwhile, Ms Spinks' parents hope a candlelit vigil held tonight to mark their daughter's birthday, will raise aware for their Gracie's Law campaign.

"That will be her legacy," said Mr Spinks.