The clues revealing Ellie Gould's death was a murder

The clues revealing Ellie Gould’s death was a murder: Detective recalls how killer Thomas Griffiths, 17, tried to make scene look like suicide in new documentary – but the blood on his shoes gave him away

  • Thomas Griffiths, then 17, stabbed Ellie Gould to death at her home in May 2019
  • After three months together, Ellie, 17, had decided to break off their relationship
  • In Nov 2019, Griffiths was handed a minimum sentence of 12 and a half years 
  • Killer at the Crime Scene revealed how police suspected Griffiths early on
  • Cops told of Griffiths’ denials until he saw the compelling evidence against him

A documentary has revealed the key clues that helped police catch killer Thomas Griffiths after he brutally murdered his 17-year-old ex-girlfriend Ellie Gould in her own kitchen.

Thomas Griffiths, then 17, from Wiltshire, was in a relationship with Ellie, also 17, until the day before her death in May 2019.

After three months together, Ellie, who dreamt of joining the mounted police, decided to break off the relationship to focus on her A-levels.

The next day, Griffiths left school and went to Ellie’s house in Calne, where he stabbed her repeatedly in the neck in a ‘frenzied attack’.

In November 2019, he was jailed at Bristol Crown Court for a minimum of 12 and a half years.

Killer at the Crime Scene: The Body in the Kitchen, which airs on 5Star tonight at 9pm, explores how Griffiths tried to cover up his heinous crime before he was caught by police.

Killer at the Crime Scene tells the story of Ellie Gould, who was just 17 years old when she was murdered by her jealous, controlling ex-boyfriend Thomas Griffiths 

Ellie’s mother Carole (pictured) recalled the moment she returned home to find the emergency services outside her house after Ellie had been killed

The episode examines the evidence at the scene that led to Griffith’s arrest.

At the end of the programme, Ellie’s mother Carole, from Calne in Wiltshire, explained: ‘It has ripped our hearts out. We feel hollow inside. Ellie is the first thing I think about every morning and she’s on my mind all through the day.’ 

In the documentary, Carole recalled her daughter being excited after Griffiths asked her out, because he was the first boy to do so. 

But in the week leading up to her death she told him she didn’t want to see him as much because she was studying for exams. The day before she died, Ellie ended the relationship.  

As the documentary examined the circumstances of Ellie’s death, her mother explained she was revising for her A Level exams at home that morning and her friend was due to drive them both into school for the afternoon.

However it was revealed that Ellie’s friend received a text message from Ellie’s phone that said: ‘I’m just going to stay at home and revise, we won’t be doing anything anyway xx’

Timeline: What happened on the day of the murder? 

1. Griffiths was driven to school by his mother

2. He secretly returned home by bus

3. Illegally drove a Ford Fiesta to Ellie’s house, where he arrived at 10.58am

4. Stabbed her to death and messaged a friend saying she wasn’t going into school that day

5. Left at 11.51am and returned to school

5. Ellie’s father found her dead at around 3pm.

Detective superintendent Jim Taylor said the message was ‘really odd’ and there was ‘no reason’ for her to cancel – leading the police to consider if the text had really been sent by her killer.

Carole said that just the night before Ellie died, she had told her that she was finding Thomas’s behaviour ‘suffocating’ and that he was ‘pestering her’.

The mother recalled: ‘She said she was going to end it. I said to her “well what are you going to do”? And she said “don’t worry mum I’m sorting it”.’ 

On the morning of May 3, Griffiths was driven to school by his mother Rachel Griffiths but he returned home by bus a short time later.

The learner driver hid in a wardrobe at his family home and waited for his mother to leave before illegally using his Ford Fiesta to go to Ellie’s home, arriving at 10.58am.

During his trial the jury heard how Griffiths stabbed her in the neck multiple times, after she had ended their short-lived relationship.

The court heard Griffiths put his hands around Ellie’s neck before stabbing her at least 13 times, mainly to the left side of her neck.

At 11.45am, a text was sent from Ellie’s phone telling friends that she was not going to be at school that day.

Griffiths left the Gould family home at 11.51 and drove himself home, where he told a neighbour he had self-harmed to explain the deep scratches to his neck.

Ellie’s body was discovered by her father – who described the scene as ‘the most frightening, horrific and saddest’ he had ever seen.   

Carole recalled coming home to find her ‘friendly, caring, gentle’ and ‘beautiful’ daughter had died.

She told the programme: ‘There were police cars everywhere and an ambulance on the drive.

‘[My husband] Matt crying at the end of the drive. I can remember running up to him and saying “what’s happened?” and he just said “she’s dead”.

When detectives first questioned Thomas Griffiths, they noticed he had some minor injuries on his face and neck which indicated Ellie had tried to fight him off

‘Just disbelief really. How has she died? Climbed up on something, fallen, hit her head?

‘Matt said “there was just too much blood”. That was the only thing he could say because he was so shocked.’

After initially believing Ellie must have been involved in a terrible accident, Carole recalled the moment police told her and Matt they were treating Ellie’s death as murder.

‘I just remember feeling absolutely shellshocked:’ Carole said. ‘I couldn’t even speak.’

Ellie’s uncle David added: ‘The worst of it was when we were told she’d had to fight for her life and she knew what was happening.

‘I can honestly say that was when something broke inside me.’

Detectives who interviewed Griffiths described his ‘unusual’ behaviour that ‘instantly raised suspicion’. 

‘I’m feeling so stressed’: Griffiths’ self-pitying social media messages after murdering Ellie 

Thomas Griffiths posted a selfie to a Snapchat group after murdering Ellie Gould – telling her friends he was feeling ‘so stressed’.

The teenager, then aged 17, referred to scratches on his neck and claimed he had been self-harming due to illnesses in his family and the break-up with Ellie.

He posted: ‘I think everyone’s noticed that I’ve been really down lately and I need to tell you why. Me and Ellie are going to go on a break and see how things go after exams.

‘As well as this, my Dad has cancer and my Nan has been in hospital having heart problems. I’ve been so stressed lately and I don’t know how to cope with it.

‘I’ve been scratching myself around my neck area and as this group has kind of become my best friends I don’t know who else to talk to.’

The boy said he was going to see a teacher at his school, Hardenhuish School, to ‘explain everything that has been happening’.

In a message to one of Ellie’s friends, Griffiths wrote: ‘I know me and Ellie are going on a break but I’ve been so anxious and nervous lately and I don’t know who else to talk to.

‘I’ve also not told anyone this but I’ve been kind of hurting myself by scratching my neck quite hard.’

 

SIO Taylor said: ‘He gave the impression that he was surprised at why he was being spoken to by officers.

‘He immediately said “Is this about my girlfriend. I haven’t seen her and I’m worried about her”.’ 

Another investigating officer, detective sergeant Dave Ridler, who was present at the time noted that the police hadn’t even mentioned Ellie’s name at that point, which led them to become suspicious of Griffiths. 

He added: ‘[Griffiths] had scratched the back of his hands he continued to scratch at his face and he continued to scratch at his neck.’

The officers also said they noticed ‘defence wounds’ on Griffiths’s body that indicated Ellie could have attacked him in self defence.

After Griffiths was arrested, officers interrogated him while he was in custody.

Mr Ridler said: ‘His story was that he’d been dropped to school by his mum and that he’d felt unwell and that he’d gone back home.

‘His story was that he’d got anxious during the day and that he’d started self harming.’

However the 17-year-old’s story fell apart when dash-cam footage from a bus showed Griffiths’s car driving away from Ellie’s house that afternoon – proving he had not stayed at home like he’d said. 

Carole told of the moment she realised Griffiths had been arrested for Ellie’s murder.

She said: ‘They came back and said “we’ve arrested somebody, a young man”.

‘I think when they described him as “a young man” the penny dropped and I just looked at Matt and said “it’s Griffiths isn’t it”.

‘I can remember just feeling absolutely thrown against the wall. That was somebody we’d welcomed into our home, celebrated her 17th birthday just three weeks earlier.

‘You just couldn’t imagine that he was capable of that.’ 

After news got out that Griffiths had been arrested on suspicion of murdering Ellie, her friends came forward to give police yet more evidence he had a potential motive.

They showed cops Snapchat messages sent by Griffiths where he told them he and Ellie were ‘going on a break’.

One message read: ‘I’ve been so stressed lately and I don’t know how to cope with it.’  

As detectives began to build their case against Griffiths they conducted a search of his family home.

They immediately noticed there were lots of freshly-washed and still damp clothes that belonged to Griffiths hanging up. 

His mother explained he had asked her to wash the clothes because he felt hot and sweaty.

However, SIO Taylor ordered a Griffiths’s shoes, a black pair of Vans, to be sent off for testing in the hope they would show some evidence that placed him at the murder scene.

While they waited for the results of the forensic evidence, technology experts were hard at work monitoring the activity of Griffiths’s phone on the day of the murder.

Ellie had ended her relationship with Thomas Griffiths the day before her murder after becoming uncomfortable with his behaviour

Detective sergeant Dave Ridler told the programme he became suspicious of Griffiths after noticing some unusual behaviour while questioning him

They revealed that the killer’s phone had dropped off his home wifi connection for an hour (when they suspected he had driven to Ellie’s house to kill her) and later that afternoon for another 18 minutes.

Officers suspected that during those 18 minutes the killer might have gone for a walk to dump evidence somewhere near his house – and after searching woodland they found a bin bag containing bloodstained tea towels.

After lab tests confirmed it was Ellie’s blood on the tea towels, officers received more results that directly placed Griffiths at the crime scene.

SIO Taylor said: ‘The forensic science service had located blood spattering on the Vans shoes which were located a Thomas’s house and that blood was a match for Ellie Gould.’

Finally, police had enough evidence to charge Griffiths with Ellie’s murder. He was due to stand trial at Bristol Crown Court.

Carole said: ‘You can’t ever prepare yourself for that first encounter. I can remember my legs absolutely shaking.

‘I can remember looking at him and I just wanted to bang on the glass and call him evil and ask him “how could you have done that”? Why did you do that”?’

She added: ‘I wanted him to look at me. I wanted him to see me. But he wouldn’t. He just had his head down the whole time. He was an absolute coward.’

Ellie Gould’s murder: A timeline of events 

3 May 2019: Ellie’s body is found in the kitchen of her family home in Calne, Wiltshire. At around 6pm that evening, Griffiths is arrested and taken into custody for questioning 

6 May 2019: Griffiths is charged with Ellie’s murder 

7 May 2019: Griffiths appears before Salisbury Magistrates Court to confirm his details

9 May 2019: Griffiths appears at Bristol Crown Court where a provisional trial date is set for 28 October. He does not enter a plea and is remanded in custody

29 May 2019: Ellie’s funeral is held at St Mary’s Church in Calne 

29 August 2019: Griffiths attends a plea hearing where he pleads guilty to murdering Ellie. He is remanded in custody and reporting restrictions are lifted which mean media outlets can name Griffiths

8 November: Griffiths attends his sentencing hearing where he is jailed for life with a minimum term of 12 and a half years

Despite denying any involvement in Ellie’s murder throughout questioning, Griffiths pleaded guilty.

‘The only reason he pleaded guilty, I believe, is because he’d get a sixth off his sentence,’ Carole said. 

‘His only focus was himself.’

After admitting he had killed Ellie, Griffiths told the court he had gone to her house to discuss their relationship before the conversation descended into an argument and he ‘lost control’. After that, he said he can’t remember what happened next.

Criminologist Dr Neema Trivedi-Bateman said such instances of ‘crime-related amnesia’ are often disputed.

She said: ‘Many professionals doubt the authenticity of such claims because crime events are likely to be retained in memory but especially and particularly emotional and intense experiences.’

Dr Trivedi-Bateman added Griffiths’s claim he couldn’t remember the attack did not match up with his attempts to clean up the crime scene or his repeated lies to police during questioning.

While no one could have predicted Griffiths would ever commit such a violent crime, Carole looked back on some things Ellie told her about him that she now considers ‘red flags’.

She recalled: ‘He lied about his family having two holiday homes and he even went to the extent of showing Ellie photographs of this villa in Mallorca.’

Since Griffiths was jailed, people have contacted Carole with stories about concerning behaviour he had exhibited in the past.

She said: ‘We learnt that a previous girlfriend of his, he was very controlling over. He stalked her to such an extent where he was talking photographs of her and sending them to her saying things like “I know where you are”.’

Carole added a former rugby coach who had taught Griffiths had seen signs of ‘uncontrollable rage’ in him when he was losing.

Dr Trivedi-Bateman also noted controlling behaviour from Griffiths, which she described as ‘more than infatuation’.

Carole is now campaigning to increase awareness around domestic homicides – murders that have happened within the home.

She said: ‘I wish I had known more about domestic homicides then because I would have recognised these as warning signs, as red flags, and I would have probably talked through with her what she was doing on the Friday morning.

‘Because obviously the most dangerous time in a owman’s life is when they end a relationship with a perpetrator like that.’

Describing Griffiths’s violence, and the cover up, as ‘absolutely evil’, Carole said she believed his behaviour was ‘of a very calculated, manipulative perpetrator’. 

After Griffiths was sentenced, Carole campaigned for a change in sentencing guidelines to implement a ‘sliding scale’ for youths who are sentenced for murder.

She said: ‘When Griffiths was sentenced, you treat a 10-year-old exactly the same as you do somebody a day off their 18th birthday.’

Ellie’s Law was passed in 2021, which amended youth sentences so that, the closer an offender is to the age of 18, the more closely their sentence reflects that of an adult convicted of the same crime.

However Carole is still campaigning to change sentencing for domestic homicide versus murders committed outside the home.

‘At the moment it’s a 15 year starting point if somebody is murdered in the home and the weapon used is from the home.

‘It’s a 25 year starting point if the weapon is taken out onto the street. It makes no sense to have this 10 year difference and we want the 10 year gap closed.

‘Murder is murder at the end of the day and it’s so wrong that if it’s a domestic murder it’s seen as a lesser crime.’

Sir Robert Buckland, who helped with the introduction of Ellie’s Law, told the programme he also commissioned a review into domestic homicide sentencing when he was justice secretary.

‘I’m very anxious that it reports as soon as possible,’ he said.

Speaking to FEMAIL, Carole said she wants to change the law to ‘stop diminishing the lives of women and girls murdered in the home’. 

She also urged current justice secretary Dominic Raab to ‘look at this review and recognise the violence and overkill and acknowledge how dangerous these perpetrators are’.

Caroline said she remained grieving for her daughter and thinking of her everyday, saying: ‘That’s the reality of the sentence we live with.

‘But I have to use this grief and I have to use this anger to try and make a difference so that her death is not in vain.’

Source: Read Full Article