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THE morning after she split with her boyfriend, 17-year-old Ellie Gould opened the door to find him standing on her doorstep and invited him in.
But Thomas Griffiths, also 17, strangled her then stabbed her 13 times leaving her to die in a pool of blood.
Chillingly, he then used her finger to unlock her phone and text her friends before calmly rearranging the scene to make it look like Ellie had killed herself.
The shocking murder in May 2019 – which features in the new series of Murder At My Door on C+I this Monday – devastated her loving family and sent shockwaves through the tightknit community of Calne, in Wiltshire.
In a heartbreaking interview, Mum Carole recalls being taken to the morgue, two days after her daughter’s death, to identify the body.
“They told us they had put plasters over her neck so that we couldn’t see the stab wounds – all 13 of them,” she tells Sun Online.
“She looked at peace. My husband Matt and I put a rose on her because Rose is her middle name.
“It was heartbreaking. No mother should ever hold the cold hand of her murdered child. That is wrong. That is disgusting. That is horrific.”
Despite the cold-blooded nature of the crime, Griffiths was jailed for just 12 and a half years in November last year, because it couldn’t be proved that the murder was premeditated.
Now Carole is campaigning for killers who commit domestic homicide to be given the same sentences as other murders, which carry a minimum tariff of 25 years.
“Griffiths wasted police time by lying and denying his guilt right up until the day of the trial when he was apparently advised by his barrister that the evidence was overwhelming,” Carole says.
“Then he pleaded guilty and got a reduced sentence. It wasn’t because he held his hands up and said ‘I did it’, and he’s never shown any remorse. Pleading guilty was his only option.”
Ellie had known Griffiths for years when they started dating in sixth form, and he was her first boyfriend.
“She felt flattered he’d asked her out but we never thought he was a good match,” says Carole.
“There was just nothing remarkable about him, he was really quiet. He had dinner with us and he didn’t have a lot to say for himself. But it was her first boyfriend and we assumed it would fizzle out.”
“Ellie was very kind and caring, really fun to be around,” says Carole. “She had a great sense of humour, a great group of friends and she cared about animals.
With mock exams on the horizon, Ellie had been studying hard and spending less time with Griffiths after school.
“He kept saying, ‘Does it not bother you that we’re not seeing each other after school?’ She said, ‘We see each other in school, so what’s the big deal about not seeing each other after, just until the mocks?’
“She told me on Thursday that he was suddenly becoming really possessive and I said, ‘You don’t want to go out with somebody like that’. She said she didn’t and she was going to sort it.
“I wish now that I had talked to her more about what she was going to do.”
That night, Ellie messaged her friends to say she had broken up with Griffiths and she was relieved to get her freedom back.
“It was on my mind to ask her how it went the night before but we’d made plans to go to the stables that evening,” she says. “I thought I’d talk to her about it then and over the weekend.”
That afternoon, at 3pm, Ellie’s dad came home from work early and the scene that greeted him was one of unimaginable horror.
Ellie lay face down in a pool of blood on the kitchen floor, with a knife stuck in her neck and her hand on the hilt.
“Matt rang me at work, absolutely hysterical, saying ‘Carole you need to come home. Ellie’s had an accident’,” says her mum.
“I ran out of work. All I could think was Ellie had cut herself because he doesn’t like the sight of blood.”
By the time Carole arrived at the house, it was surrounded by police with flashing lights.
“There was an ambulance in the drive and I remember thinking ‘the paramedics are here. They can do something’. We just stood there, stunned.
Tragically, Ellie’s older brother Ben, who was studying at Oxford, had to be told the news after seeing on Facebook that the street was full of police cars.
At first the family thought her death was a tragic accident but police told them Ellie had been strangled first, and then stabbed to death.
The morning of Ellie’s death, Griffiths was dropped at school by his mum but feigned sickness and got a bus home.
He told police he stayed at home but instead he drove to Ellie’s house and committed his heinous crime.
He then washed his trainers in the sink, wiped the knife clean with an apron and used Ellie’s phone to message a friend who was due to pick her up and take her to school, telling her not to come.
“We believe when Ellie was dead, he used her finger to open the phone so he could text her friend.
“But the most chilling thing he did was putting the knife in Ellie’s hand, raising the knife to her neck and reinserting it into a wound on her neck, to make it look like she had killed herself.
“That is one hell of a monster. That is an evil psychopath. Then he calmly walked out of here as if nothing had happened.”
Chillingly, he also messaged a group chat with a picture of scratches on his face and neck, claiming he had started self-harming through stress – but in fact the injuries were sustained in the struggle with Ellie.
Although he claimed to have been at home, officers found CCTV footage of Griffiths car near Ellie’s home.
His smartphone also revealed his location at the time of her death – which put him near her family house.
It also placed him in woodlands nine minutes from home after the attack – where officers found a bag full of blood-soaked clothes and towels.
Griffiths was charged and locked up for 12 and a half years in November, but he is eligible to apply for a review after serving half if he can prove good behaviour.
As well as campaigning for domestic murders to be treated the same as others, Carole wants the government to review the “Smart sentencing” which is soon to be introduced.
“If you take a knife out in the street and you stab somebody, it will be seen as premeditation and adult sentencing starts at 25 years,” she says.
“If you commit a most heinous crime in somebody’s house to somebody you know, the starting point is 15 years, because you didn’t take the weapon to the scene.
“But why should a life taken in the home by somebody be worth any less than a life taken in the street by a stranger? It doesn’t make sense.
“The Government’s smart sentencing proposal means that under 18s get two thirds of the adult sentence.
“But for domestic homicide, the starting point is 15 years so Griffiths would only have got ten years.”
Over a year on, the family are still struggling with their grief every day and Carole says Ellie’s 18th birthday, in February, was “the most painful day of my life”.
“Our barrister said to us, ‘He’s very dangerous because he went from zero to 100 so quickly’,” she says.
“In retrospect he was displaying classic signs of controlling behaviour but that normally tends to develop over a longer timescale. This all happened in 24 hours.
“They only went out with each other for three months, at the age of 17 – we never dreamed he would do anything like this.”
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World news – GB – My teenage daughter was stabbed 13 times in our kitchen by her ex – we must toughen up sentences for domestic killers