Gracie Spinks murder: Force refers itself to police watchdog as Sheffield man found dead

An MP has called for stalking victims to be the “law’s upmost priority” following the death of keen horse rider Gracie Spinks.

Tuesday, 22nd June 2021, 7:14 am

An MP has called for stalking victims to be the “law’s upmost priority” following the death of keen horse rider Gracie Spinks.

Derbyshire Police said they were investigating after the 23-year-old’s body was found in a field near Staveley Road, Duckmanton, at around 8.40am on Friday.

The force said officers discovered the body of Michael Sellars, 35, around three hours later in a field off Tom Lane and are not looking for anyone else in connection with the deaths.

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Gracie Spinks adored horses.

Unconfirmed reports have suggested two large knives and an axe had been discovered near to where Ms Spinks was found dead.

Social media posts have said the weapons were found in a backpack on a farmer’s track six weeks ago.

A police spokesman said the force has referred itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) watchdog following the incident.

Ms Spinks’s MP, Toby Perkins, said Ms Spinks’s death will “further amplify the calls for more to be done to protect victims of violence and stalking”.

The Labour MP for Chesterfield said: “I would like to publicly add my condolences, to those I have made privately, and to the scores of others being amassed following the announcement of Gracie Spinks’ murder on Friday.

“The outpouring of love and affection for Gracie speaks to her popularity and the affection and esteem in which she was held.

“It is unbearable that a family has lost a beloved daughter in this way, but that anguish will be coupled with a desire to ensure that the full facts about this case are known and that action is taken to prevent more families suffering this same agony.”

A GoFundMe page has raised more than £8,500 for Ms Spinks’ family.

Paying tribute on the site, the fundraiser’s founder said: “Gracie was a beautiful girl.

“At just 23 years old she had already touched so many people’s life and what gorgeous memories she leaves behind.

“She was a caring and loving individual and was always happy to help.

“She was also so so stubborn and she’d always stand up for what was right.

“If you knew Gracie you’d also know she was horsey mad and had the most gorgeous horse called Paddy whom she loved dearly.

“Although no amount of money could ever bring Gracie back, I ask that you please donate what ever you can to help her family at this moment.

“We all love you so dearly Gracie, behave up there.”

Promising to keep people informed about the case, Mr Perkins continued: “This appalling incident has sent shockwaves through the community, amongst those who knew or worked with Gracie and also more widely.

“I have communicated with police several times and am aware that Derbyshire Police have referred themselves to the IOPC so that there can be a full enquiry about some of the issues that are being reported on social media and how the police have conducted any enquiries in advance of this incident.

“The police are prevented by the IOPC from commenting publicly on some of these issues until the investigation has taken place but I can assure everyone that I will do all I can to make sure that the full facts about everything concerning this are investigated and nothing is swept under the carpet.”

Calling for stalking victims to be protected by the law, Mr Perkins said: “The issue of violence against women is a very prominent one just now, and this incident will further amplify the calls for more to be done to protect victims of violence and stalking and ensure that the law, and the forces of law and order, are more forcefully on the side of victims and protect them before offences are committed.

“The police and other authorities must have all the resources and legal powers they need, so that we can say that as a society we have done all we can to prevent more families suffering the intolerable and heart-breaking anguish that Gracie’s family and friends are now suffering.

“The helplessness that we all feel when an incident like this occurs must strengthen our resolve to ensure that victims of stalking and violence are the law’s utmost priority.”

Police previously said the families of both the deceased had been traced and specially trained officers were supporting them.