Gracie Spinks killer “removed himself from any form of accountability” says coroner

A coroner has said Michael Sellers, the killer of Gracie Spinks, effectively removed himself from any form of accountability by taking his own life, during an inquest into his death.
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Coroner Matthew Kewley said when Sellers killed the 23-year-old on June 18, 2021 it was “not a spur of the moment act”.

He added: “Michael Sellers engaged in significant planning and preparation in the weeks leading up to the murder.”

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During the inquest at Chesterfield Coroners Court today (Monday), finding the 35-year-old died by gas asphyxiation, he added the former warehouse supervisor was “incapable of understanding how to behave towards female colleagues”.

Sellers shown here on the morning of June 18, 2021Sellers shown here on the morning of June 18, 2021
Sellers shown here on the morning of June 18, 2021

The inquest heard how Sellers had stalked eight colleagues before becoming obsessed with Gracie and finally murdering her at Blue Lodge Farm stables in Duckmanton in June 2018.

Mr Kewley said: “He would latch onto women who showed him attention – he would think relationships were more than they actually were.

"The evidence I have heard suggests he lacked even a shred of insight into his behaviour and how he made the women feel.

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“On June 18, 2021, Michael Sellers murdered Gracie Spinks as she arrived at the horse field.

Chesterfield Coroners CourtChesterfield Coroners Court
Chesterfield Coroners Court

“It’s most likely that he lay in wait for her arrival.

“This was not a spur of the moment act. Michael Sellers engaged in significant planning and preparation in the weeks leading up to the murder.

“His actions were premeditated and carefully planned – the level of violence during the murder is beyond comprehension.

“He was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol and knew full-well what he was doing.

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“Having killed Gracie Spinks Michael Sellers then headed into a field nearby and he was found dead at 11am on June 18, 2021.

“What Michael Sellers did was he effectively removed himself from any form of accountability for his actions towards Gracie Spinks.”

Detective Constable Denise Sandall was on duty on June 18, 2021 – the morning Gracie was murdered by Sellers and became the officer in the case.

She told the inquest Sellers, 35, lived with his parents and sister at their home in Sheffield, growing up in a “middle-class”, “stable, normal upbringing”.

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She added: “He spent a lot of time with his family and did not appear to have any close friends and did not appear to ever have had a girlfriend.”

The detective, said Sellers who had “no documented mental health illness” known to the police for the fist time in February 2021 when Gracie reported him for harassment.

Sellers was educated at Sheffield’s Aston Academy where he “excelled”, gaining A*s in all subjects before beginning a degree in pharmaceutical science at Sheffield Hallam University.

However he dropped out of the course after three years.

“Avid” Sheffield United supporter Sellers was described by his family to police officers as “family oriented”, “gentle and mild-tempered”.

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In a statement read out to the court Michael’s father, Stephen Sellers described how after his son lost his job at Xbite “everything went downhill”.

He said: “He used to go to the gym and look after himself but when he lost his job he really shut down and could not move on.

"He became a broken man when he left work as he lost everything.”

Speaking about Sellers’ relationship with Gracie, Stephen said: “He liked her and he showed me a photo of her and said she was really nice to talk to.”

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After she told Sellers she no longer wanted to see him, his son was “so upset”, said Mr Sellers.

He added: “He was bewildered and said to me ‘I didn’t want her to love me, I just wanted her to like me’.

Mr Sellers described how Sellers took a delivery of a “set of knives” in the months after his dismissal which he kept in his bedroom, adding that they “looked illegal”.

He said: “They were not nice-looking knives and I told him to get rid of them.”

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The court heard how on the morning Sellers stabbed Gracie Spins to death on June 18, 2021, sometime after 6.15am, Sellers’ sister heard the front door click very quietly and they “did not see him again”.

DC Sandall, describing Sellers’ movements since the early hours of that day, said he was seen loading a black Nike holdall into his car at 6.14am.

She said: “We believe he arrived at the horse stables at just before 7am and possibly hid under a tarpaulin until 8.15, when witnesses saw him running away.”

He was discovered among undergrowth in a nearby field on the other side of the rod at around 11am.

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DC Sandall described how Sellers started working at Markham Vale e-commerce firm Xbite in 2015 – meeting Gracie when when started working in the warehouse with him in April 2020.

The two became “friendly out of work”, going for a meal and walks together around November 2020.

However, following an incident during which Sellers climbed on top of Gracie and refused to get off, she sent him a text informing him she no longer wanted to see him.

The officer said: “It would appear he would not accept she wanted to call it off and continued to try and talk to her at work.

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"He would follow her and talk to other employees about her.”

Sellers – who had stalked eight other colleagues before Gracie – was dismissed from Xbite in February 2021 after she complained when he turned up at Blue Lodge Farm unannounced.

Speaking about the Xbite investigation into Sellers, DC Sandall Said: “It appears he saw the relationship as a lot more meaningful.

"When Gracie talked about what happened and said said they were never boyfriend and girlfriend he believed she was lying about that.”

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The inquest heard that following Sellers’ death a suicide note was found in his bedroom which read: “I could not take all her lies against me.

"How could she carry on as normal while I suffer.”

On May 6 – six weeks before Gracie was murdered – a bag of weapons was found by dog walker Anna Whit near her Duckmanton home on a brown Nike ruck sack, metres from the scene of the kiliing.

The court heard Sellers had purchased the weapons on March 11, two months before.

On the same day they were found and confiscated, Sellers ordered another four knives.

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DC Sandall said: “It seemed he had made a plan about what he intended to do and he was quite certain that this was what he wanted to do.”

A pathologist who examined Sellers’ body on June 19, 2021, gave his cause of death as gas asphyxiation.