Jurors weep as Gracie Spinks’ mum describes her “untouched bedroom”
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Alison Ward said Gracie’s towel still sits on the radiator as she left it on Thursday June 17, 2021 – the day before she was killed by stalker Michael Sellers.
Mum-of-three Alison told how “life and soul” Gracie’s bed “is not made and a plate and packet of empty crisps lay on her bedside cabinet.”
He said: “Her water cup is on the windowsill and her handbag is where she left it and her clothes remain on the floor. I cannot bear to touch anything.”
The statement, along with others from Gracie’s family and friends, was read to Chesterfield Coroners Court after two weeks of evidence from police officers about their involvement in the tragic case.
They included a police constable who deemed Sellers “low risk” and failed to take any notes from a 45-minute interview with Gracie.
Another witness, a police constable who investigated the ruck sack found near Blue Lodge Farm, thought the weapons inside were “props for sex” or useful for “woodwork”.
Her sergeant in his own evidence admitted closing the case and had the bag booked as “lost property”.
Gracie was found at Blue Lodge Farm, Duckmanton, “lying on the ground”, having been stabbed, at around 8am on June 18, 2021.
Paramedics battled to save her but she died half an hour later.
Her killer 35-year-old Michael Sellers was found dead at 11am, 150 metres from where Gracie had been found – having taken his own life.
Reading from her statement mum Alison described Gracie as "the life, soul and energy of the house”.
She said: “Before the tragic loss of my daughter we were a very happy busy family.
“We were always having a laugh, having parties, socialising with friends and working. Gracie was the life, soul and energy of the house.
"She would always be singing, playing music and having fun with us all. We would very often have karaoke nights in our living room.
"Gracie also enjoyed playing on her piano, especially playing and singing to Adele songs. She was also a fantastic artist.”
Chesterfield Coroners’ Court heard how various staff at the Barlborough e-commerce firm where Gracie and Sellers worked together had complained about the warehouse supervisor before he started showing an “interest” in Gracie.
Coroner Matthew Kewley told the court how in December 2020 Gracie “made it clear” to Sellers “that she did not want to continue meeting up with him”.
However the court heard he would “continue to try and engage with Gracie and would ask “other staff” for information about her.
The coroner said: “It would appear Michael Sellers had become obsessed and could not accept her decision.”
Speaking about Xbite, mum Alison said Gracie had started working there, at first, temporarily when she was furloughed as a lifeguard during the pandemic.
However “she progressed quickly” and accepted a permanent position.
She described how her son Tom had applied to become a police officer at the Derbyshire force and been accepted.
However, as a result of Gracie’s death he had “become completely disillusioned” and turned down the job offer.
Gracie’s father Richard Spinks, speaking about Gracie, told the inquest: “My beautiful daughter Gracie was an amazing and unique person.
"We had such a special relationship as father and daughter – a closeness that I will always treasure.
"I am so proud of what she achieved in her short life and the influence she had on so many people - the people she taught, the people she worked with.
"Everybody she met took to her straight away as she was so friendly and open, smiling, happy, joyful, always willing to help.
"I'm so devastated that she could not fulfil all her all hopes and dreams. All the things she wanted to do.
"She had a wish list. And was about to start fulfilling them one by one.”
In his own statement Gracie’s brother Thomas described how if he could “swap places” with Gracie, he would.
However he added: “In fact, I’m not sure because I would never wish the pain I feel on a daily basis on her.
“Having to see my mum and dad cry pretty much every day. The thought of Gracie being scared and in pain makes me so angry and upset.
"Wishing for her brother to come save her.
"We were best friends and I don’t mean that lightly. She was my definition of a best friend. When we argued, we argued big but we loved each other so much.
“She has left the biggest hole in my heart, and life.”
The inquest, which is expected to conclude this week, continues.