A teenager has been jailed for 12 years and six months after pleading guilty to murdering 17-year-old Ellie Gould.
Thomas Griffiths, who is now 18, was sentenced at Bristol Crown Court today (08/11).
Griffiths, of Derry Hill, pleaded guilty to killing Ellie at her home in Calne, at an earlier court appearance.
Griffiths had been in a relationship with Ellie since January, before Ellie ended the relationship on May 2 so she could focus on her studying. Both were sixth form students at Hardenhuish School in Chippenham.
The following morning, Griffiths was taken to school by his mum. But instead of attending his lessons, Griffiths caught a bus back to Derry Hill before taking the family car, despite not having a driving licence, and drove to Ellie’s house in Calne.
A post mortem later showed Griffiths strangled Ellie and used a kitchen knife to stab her multiple times to the neck.
In a bid to cover his tracks, he drove back to his home before walking to a wooded area nearby and disposed of a number of items he had used to clear up at Ellie’s home.
He even messaged school friends in a group chat where he claimed he had been self-harming in an attempt to explain the scratch marks on his neck, believed to have been caused by Ellie acting in self-defence. Griffiths then went back to school.
Tragically, it was Ellie’s father who found her body on the kitchen floor when he returned home from work later that day and emergency services were called.
A neighbour provided a statement to police describing a male he had seen attend Ellie’s house earlier that morning. The description matched that of Griffiths, and he was arrested at a friend’s house in Calne later that day.
A murder investigation was launched by the Brunel Major Crime Investigation Team and three days later, he was charged with murder.
Det Chief Insp Jim Taylor said: “Ellie was murdered as a result of a violent attack by someone she had previously been in a relationship with for several months.
“Having ended the relationship, Ellie wanted to focus on her education and her hobbies including horse riding which she was extremely passionate about. I am told she had been considering joining the mounted police section in the future and I have no doubt that she would have been a credit to any police force. She was an extremely popular, fun-loving, kind, and gentle girl.
“Griffiths appeared to be a normal 17-year-old boy – like Ellie, he was studying in the sixth form, he had a good circle of friends and a close family.
"There were no warning signs or red flags regarding his behaviour, however, his actions on May 3 were truly unthinkable. The injuries he inflicted on Ellie were horrific. Not only did he end her life in the cruellest way imaginable, he then attempted to cover his tracks by hiding items, washing his blood-stained clothes, and even messaging Ellie’s phone as if nothing had happened.
"In murdering Ellie, Griffiths has destroyed the lives of those who were close to her, none more so than her parents and brother and sister. I’d like to pay tribute to them for the strength they have shown during these most unthinkable times – they have shown the utmost composure during today’s court appearance.
“While I know that this prison sentence will not bring Ellie back, and 12 and a half years no doubt seems insignificant given the severity of this crime and the colossal loss for this family, I hope that in some way it provides them with some form of closure.
“I know Ellie’s friends have been a huge comfort to the Gould family in the months that have followed her death – their admirable commitment to fundraising in Ellie’s name has no doubt provided much-needed focus for the family. I hope they continue to remember Ellie as the bright and caring person that she was.
“Finally, I’d like to thank all the staff and officers involved in investigating this murder and ensuring Griffiths was put before the courts for justice to be served. The thoughts of us all at Wiltshire Police remain with Ellie’s family and friends.”
Following today’s sentencing, Police and Crime Commissioner for Swindon and Wiltshire, Angus Macpherson, said: “This incident understandably caused a huge amount of shock and sadness amongst the tight knit community of Calne, as well as the school community at Hardenhuish in Chippenham where both Griffiths and Ellie were studying.
"The students at the school have shown admirable strength and maturity beyond their young years in the days, weeks and months since this tragic incident occurred.
“I would like to praise the investigation team involved in this case. Although they deal with death on a regular basis, I know that this case in particular has affected many of them on a personal level and I commend them for their dedication and professionalism.”
Hardenhuish School headteacher Lisa Percy said: “Our community was shocked and saddened by the tragic death of Ellie Gould in May. Ellie was a talented, popular and much loved member of our school community who is dearly missed.
"As you can imagine, this continues to be an extremely distressing time for our entire school population but we continue to support our young people and the wider community during this challenging time.”