Gracie Spinks killing: Derbyshire police officers to face misconduct action

Five Derbyshire police officers will face misconduct proceedings after 23-year-old Gracie Spinks was killed by a stalker she had previously reported to the force, the police watchdog has said.

Spinks was stabbed to death by a former colleague, Michael Sellers, 35, while tending to her horse in a field in Duckmanton, Derbyshire, in June 2021. In the weeks before her death, a bag containing a hammer, an axe and some knives was handed in to the police after being found close to where Spinks was subsequently killed.

Her parents said they were told the bag contained a receipt with information linked to Sellers.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said that after an investigation it found three officers had a case to answer for misconduct in relation to the bag, while two officers would face action for their handling of the stalking investigation.

“We have determined that disciplinary proceedings in the form of a misconduct meeting should be brought against each officer,” the IOPC said.

A misconduct meeting is not as serious as a misconduct hearing, and the maximum outcome would be a final written warning.

Spinks reported Sellers to the police in February 2021 and officers spoke to both of them as part of their inquiries.

The IOPC investigated 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”.

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.”

In a statement, Derbyshire constabulary confirmed five officers “will be subject to a misconduct meeting after an IOPC independent investigation into police contact with Gracie Spinks, prior to her murder in June 2021”.

The misconduct meetings would be held in private, the force said.

Spinks was discovered unconscious with stab wounds at Blue Lodge Farm stables, where she kept her horse, just a few miles from her home at about 8.40am on 18 June last year. The body of Sellers, from Sheffield, who had been her supervisor at a warehouse where she had worked, was found in a nearby field a few hours later.

An inquest found Spinks died from a stab wound to the neck.

Earlier this year, her parents told the Guardian the police “have got to make changes”, and “they’ve got to realise people don’t trust them”. They have been campaigning for more funding for stalking advocates, who provide independent support, advice and advocacy for stalking victims.

In February, Derbyshire constabulary said it was recruiting a stalking coordinator in response to rising cases, and to ensure investigations were properly carried out.

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