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Man who stalked and killed Gracie Spinks died by suicide, coroner rules

Michael Sellers was found dead 150 metres away from where he had killed Ms Spinks.

Michael Sellers seen on CCTV the day before he killed Ms Spinks and then took his own life (Derbyshire Constabulary/PA)

The man who stalked and killed Gracie Spinks took his own life shortly after fatally stabbing her as she tended to her horse, a coroner has ruled.

Michael Sellers was found dead in a field 150 metres away from where he fatally stabbed Ms Spinks at Blue Lodge Farm, Duckmanton, Derbyshire, on June 18 2021.

Following the attack, the 35-year-old died by suicide, with his body found three hours after he had killed Ms Spinks.

In a hearing on Monday at Chesterfield Coroner’s Court, coroner Matthew Kewley said Sellers “carefully planned” his actions after becoming “utterly obsessed” with Ms Spinks, which had reached “dangerous levels”.

He said: “On June 18 2021, Michael Sellers murdered Gracie Spinks as she arrived at the horse field.

“It is most likely that he lay in wait for her arrival.

“This was not a spur-of-the-moment act of violence.

“Michael Sellers engaged in significant planning and preparation in the weeks leading up to the murder.

“His actions were premeditated and carefully planned.

“He effectively removed himself from any form of accountability for his actions towards Gracie Spinks.

“I am certain that he died by suicide.”

The inquest into Sellers’ death took place after a jury concluded on Thursday that he had unlawfully killed Ms Spinks by stabbing her 10 times after multiple serious failings previously admitted by Derbyshire Constabulary.

These included how police handled Ms Spinks’ complaint about Sellers over stalking concerns, made in February 2021, and how it dealt with a bag of weapons found near Blue Lodge Farm in May that year.

But the jury said it could not conclude whether these contributed to Ms Spinks’ death.

While police dismissed the bag, which contained a hammer, an axe and several knives, at the time, it was linked back to Sellers following his death.

Giving evidence on Monday, Detective Constable Denise Sandall, of Derbyshire Constabulary, said bank statements showed Sellers had purchased the knives found in the bag on March 11 2021.

He then purchased more knives the same day that the bag was discovered, which were then found at the scene on June 18 2021.

She said: “It did seem that he had made a plan about what he intended to do and he seemed quite certain that this was what he wanted to do, and the fact he bought those knives on May 6 suggests that.”

DC Sandall said that prior to Ms Spinks’ complaint to police, Sellers had never previously been spoken to by police and had no previous convictions.

A black holdall, which Sellers was seen on CCTV placing into his car hours before his death, was found near his body, and a suicide note was later found in a bedside drawer.

The officer said Sellers was born in Sheffield, lived with his family, and “did not appear to have any close friends and he had never had a girlfriend”.

He had met Ms Spinks at the e-commerce firm, xbite, in 2020 but became “obsessed” with her after she declined to pursue a romantic relationship.

Gracie Spinks (Family Handout/PA)
Gracie Spinks (Family Handout/PA)

She later reported him to the company and he was dismissed for gross misconduct, with eight other women having previously reported him for inappropriate conduct towards them.

In his conclusion, Mr Kewley said Sellers was “incapable of understanding how to behave towards his female colleagues” and “lacked even a shred of insight into his own behaviour”.

In a statement read out at the inquest, Sellers’ father, Stephen Sellers, said that his son “just shut down and really went downhill” after losing his job at xbite, but would not discuss the reason for the dismissal.

He said: “He was so upset. He was blindsided. I don’t think he knew what he had done wrong.”

Mr Sellers also said that his son had told his family: “I don’t want her (Spinks) to love me, I just want her to like me.”

In his statement, Pc Daniel Ball, also of Derbyshire Constabulary, said: “After losing his job, Michael’s family described him as ‘dying inside’, as work meant everything to him.”

He added: “After xbite, Michael’s personality changed. He was fragile, very quiet and withdrawn, seemingly having lost his way in life.”

None of Sellers’ family attended the inquest.

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