Gracie’s Law: Petition calls for harsher punishment for stalkers after tragic death of Chesterfield’s Gracie Spinks

Residents and businesses across Derbyshire are backing a petition for the government to introduce harsher punishment for stalkers in the wake of Gracie Spinks’ death.

Sunday, 27th June 2021, 3:55 pm
Updated Monday, 28th June 2021, 1:13 pm

Gracie Spinks, 23, who was a keen horse-rider and lived in Old Whittington, was killed in a field near Staveley Road, Duckmanton, at around 8.40am on Friday, June 18.

Around two hours later the body of 35-year-old Michael Sellers, from Sheffield, was found in a field off Tom Lane and police believe he killed her before taking his own life in a murder-suicide.

Friends claim Sellers had become ‘obsessed’ with Gracie after the pair went on a date and that she filed a restraining order after he ‘kept turning up at the stables where she went riding’.

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Gracie Spinks with her beloved horse, Paddy.

However, Derbyshire police have confirmed there was no criminal restraining order in place from Gracie towards Sellers.

Brampton resident Jackie Barnett-Wheatcroft has now launched a petition for ‘Gracie’s Law’, calling on the government to introduce harsher punishment for stalkers in the wake of the 23-year-old’s death.

Jackie, 48, said: “[The petition is] to change the law around stalkers, that’s for men and women. It’s to get a law that is stricter and has harsher punishment at certain points.

Picture kindly submitted by the family of Gracie Spinks.

"For example, if you realise you’ve got a stalker or someone is following you who you’ve ditched on a date. After reporting it to the police, they should then be able to go to that person and give them a warning.

"If that person then gets a restraining order, the stalker should then be able to be monitored by either something like a tag or an app so the victim will know if they are nearby and can alert the police.”

The campaign in support of Gracie’s Law has already gained backing from hundreds of residents and businesses across Derbyshire, many of whom have offered to display a physical copy of the petition in their shops for members of the public to sign.

An online parliamentary petition will also be set up to spread the message across the country and help gain the 10,000 signatures needed to get a response from the government.

If it gains 100,000 signatures, the petition will then be considered for debate in Parliament.

"I just really can’t believe the community support I’ve had,” Jackie added. “I thought this was doing to be a one-man band and it's not. I’ve affectionately called us all Gracettes because it’s a team effort.

“I did get a personal message from Nicola, who was Gracie’s aunt, and she said the whole family have discussed it and are very grateful for what I’m doing and it is what they want.

"They want something positive to come out of such a tragedy as does everyone.”

The petition calls on the government to change the law by introducing harsher punishment for stalkers including custodial sentences if the harassment involves threats to kill.

To follow the progress of the campaign or to find out how you can sign the petition – including the businesses that are involved – visit the Gracie’s Law Facebook page here.

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