Dad of Gracie Spinks learned about bag of weapons on Facebook, inquest hears

Gracie Spinks is believed to have been stabbed to death by her ‘obsessed’ colleague Michael Sellers (Family handout/PA)
Gracie Spinks is believed to have been stabbed to death by her ‘obsessed’ colleague Michael Sellers (Family handout/PA) Gracie Spinks is believed to have been stabbed to death by her ‘obsessed’ colleague Michael Sellers (Family handout/PA)

The father of Gracie Spinks said it was “devastating” to find out on the day his daughter was stabbed to death that a rucksack full of weapons had been found nearby the month before.

In a statement read out at the inquest into the death of Gracie, 23, at Chesterfield Coroner’s Court on Friday, Richard Spinks said that he only found out about the brown rucksack via Facebook on the day Gracie was killed.

The bag, which had an axe, knives, a hammer, Viagra and a note saying “don’t lie” in it, was found by dog walker Anna White on May 6 2021, who reported it to Derbyshire Constabulary. They took the bag but did not investigate further.

After hearing about the incident at Blue Lodge Farm in Duckmanton, Derbyshire, on June 18 2021, Ms White posted an image of the “disturbing” bag’s contents on Facebook.

After Gracie’s death, the bag was linked to Michael Sellers, 35, the man believed to have stabbed her to death at Blue Lodge Farm as she tended to her horse Paddy.

Mr Spinks said: “Finding out about the existence of the brown rucksack and its contents, which had been left in close proximity to where Gracie visited Paddy, via Facebook, on the day that she died, was a devastating blow.

“In the absence of anyone notifying those using the stables the bag and contents had been recovered, another chance to save Gracie’s life was missed.

“Had we been forewarned I would have taken every step to keep her safe.”

Mr Spinks said he believed that the issues Gracie was having with Sellers, who had worked with his daughter at e-commerce firm Xbite until he was sacked for harassing her, had been resolved after she informed police of his behaviour.

He said: “Somehow Gracie managed to put this out of her mind and carry on with her normal life.

“Had I known how dangerous and obsessed Sellers was with Gracie and how events might escalate I would have done everything in my power to protect and safeguard her.

“As a family, we would have made sure she was not vulnerable or alone in public places.”

Alison Ward, Gracie’s mother, said in a statement read out by coroner Matthew Kewley, that she knew her daughter had gone out for walks a couple of times with Sellers and he had been with her while she rode her horse.

She said: “I never had any reason at the time to ask Gracie whether they walked along the bridle path where the brown rucksack was found.”

Mrs Ward described how Gracie had told her on a number of occasions that Sellers was “weird” and that she phoned her “distressed and crying” on January 5 2021 when she saw him waiting for her in a lay-by close to Blue Lodge Farm.

She said: “Gracie was spooked by Sellers waiting for her at the horse field, so for the next few weeks, we as a family and her friends made sure Gracie did not go to the field on her own, to ensure she was not alone.”

Mrs Ward’s statement also told how Gracie’s step-father Dave had fallen ill and died in May 2021, and that Gracie’s siblings “were still grieving for [him] when their sister was taken”.

The inquest continues.