Ellie Gould was a “beautiful and loving” daughter, who was adored by her friends and determined to go far in life.
The 17-year-old schoolgirl had dreams of going to university when she had finished her A-levels and learning to drive when her life was snuffed out in a horrific and brutal killing.
On May 3 last year, the picturesque Wiltshire town of Calne was shocked to its core when news started to spread that the teenager had been murdered in her own home.
Ellie had been stabbed 13 times in a brutal and frenzied attack by the teenager who, until the day before, had been her boyfriend.
Thomas Griffiths, who was also 17, then desperately tried to cover his tracks as police realised he was the one responsible for the harrowing crime.
He was convicted of jailed of the killing and sentenced to 12-and-a-half years in prison, which means he could be free before he’s 30.
For Ellie’s devastated parents, Carole and Matt, Griffiths’ sentence was a double blow and they have worked tireless since their daughter’s death for a change in the law.
Carole said: “How can one person cause so much damage, complete devastation to us, Ellie’s family, such deep emotional scarring to all her friends, to our friends, to the wider community, cause so much damage to so many people, and the punishment for that is 12 and a half years. It’s wrong.”
When the teen killer was sentenced, he was treated as a child reather than an adult.
Carole said: “Somebody a day off their 18th birthday cannot be treated the same way as a 10-year-old in terms of sentencing. I’m just flabbergasted that a high court judge and top barristers in this country think that was correct, it just does not make sense.”
The courageous couple are calling for sentences for domestic homicide to be treated in the same way as other homicides.
They also was the ‘smart sentences’ loophole, which could let domestic murderers, like Thomas Griffiths, receive lighter sentences, be removed.
Ellie had made the decision to end her relationship with Griffiths so she could concentrate on her exams,
Her heartbroken mum described her beloved daughter, saying: “She was on the brink of adulthood, she was blossoming into this beautiful young lady, she was working hard at school studying hard for her A-levels, she’d just got herself a little job waitressing with the National Trust; she was learning to drive, and she was looking at universities.”
Her dad, Matt, added: “She was very much like her mother. She was just – well, a father would always say that – a lovely child. She knew her own mind from a very young age, very determined.
“She was great fun and obviously grew up into a beautiful, kind, loving young lady.”
Ellie’s friends echo her parents grief.
School pal Tilda Offen said: “Something just jumped out to me, like she was just so quirky. There was something about her where you just fell in love with her instantly.”
Another friend, Ellie Welling, added: “She was just so real with everyone; she was just Ellie all the time. She was so funny, so bubbly, everyone loved her.”
Ellie and Griffiths had been dating for three months before her brutal murder.
To her friends, he seemed ” like a ‘normal’ and ‘quiet’ boy and there was nothing to suggest that he would go on to kill.
Ellie Welling said: “Normal, honestly. He was just your normal boy. You would never have thought he could have even hurt a fly.”
Another one of the tragic teen’s friends, Harriet Adams, added: “I think we only saw the quiet side of him, because maybe he was intimidated by the big personalities in our group but she told us he was a lot more caring and open and louder and funnier and more outgoing when he was with her.”
After murdering Ellie in her kitchen, Griffiths fled the scene but all the evidence pointed to him as a person of interest and police arrested him on suspicion of Ellie’s murder.
As Detective Superintendent Jim Taylor, who led the investigation, remembers a callous Griffiths attempted to lie himself out of the situation.
He explained: “When he was seen by officers, he was displaying marks, fresh marks down his face, which looked like scratch marks. They looked like classic defence wounds and based on that quite rightly he was arrested on suspicion of murder of Ellie Gould.
“His initial kind of response upon being arrested was ‘is my girlfriend ok, I haven’t seen her today?’ So he is immediately already trying to lay the foundations down of his lies and deceit.”