Teen tried to inflict ‘educational sabotage’ on girl before murder, review finds

·2-min read

A teenage boy who stabbed his ex-girlfriend to death after she ended their relationship to focus on her studies tried to subject her to “coercive control” before murdering her, a review has found.

The Domestic Homicide Review into the murder of 17-year-old Ellie Gould by Thomas Griffiths noted how the killer tried to disrupt Ellie’s study attempts, a form of behaviour known as “educational sabotage”.

The review said it was “alarming” how quickly their separation escalated to murder.

No agency failings or shortcomings were identified in the review, although its recommendations included promoting the support available for young people in Wiltshire concerned about domestic abuse or controlling behaviour.

Ellie Gould murder
Ellie Gould was described by her family as a ‘delightful, kind, gentle, fun-loving girl, a beautiful soul inside and out’ (Wiltshire Police/PA)

Ellie, a keen horse rider, bravely attempted to fight off 17-year-old Griffiths after he attacked her with a kitchen knife at her family home in Calne in May 2019, before he staged the scene to make it look like a suicide and returned to school.

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.

“His disruption of her studies thereafter should be seen within the context of educational sabotage.”

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”.

It said Ellie would have been able to use “the full range of specialist domestic abuse services” within Wilshire had she wanted or felt the need to.

Ellie Gould murder
Thomas Griffiths was 17 when he murdered schoolgirl Ellie Gould in Calne, Wiltshire (Wiltshire Police/PA)

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.

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Cooper, chairman of the Wiltshire Community Safety Partnership, said: “Tackling domestic abuse and violence, in all its forms, is every agency’s responsibility and we will continue to work together to ensure we are doing all we can to support victims and educate everyone on this issue.”

Griffiths will serve a minimum of 12 years and six months in prison after admitting murder.

Ellie’s friends have since campaigned for self-defence classes to be part of the school curriculum.

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