A teenager who stabbed his 17-year-old girlfriend to death in a “brutal” and “horrific” murder has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 12 years and six months.
Thomas Griffiths, 18, admitted he had killed Ellie Gould at her family home in Calne, Wiltshire on 3 May 2019 – the day after she ended their relationship.
Griffiths strangled Ellie and stabbed her in the neck 13 times, before placing the knife in her hand in an attempt to make the wounds look self-inflicted.
Griffiths – who was 17 at the time of the killing – attempted to cover up his actions by dumping evidence and texting Ellie’s phone, despite knowing she was dead, Bristol Crown Court heard.
Ellie – a passionate horse rider – was in her first year of sixth form and had aspirations of joining the mounted police.
In sentencing, Mr Justice Garnham said: “For a few months, you had been boyfriend and girlfriend. On about May 2, she had decided to end that relationship.
“What matters is that she had called a halt to the relationship as she was perfectly entitled to do. You say you were upset by that.
“In my view, you were a great deal more than upset.”
Mr Garnham added that he did not accept Griffiths’ account of events that the pair had argued during a study session, saying: “You and you alone know exactly what happened that day but what is clear is that at some point, you put your hands around Ellie’s neck and tried to throttle her.”
“She tried desperately to fight back, scratching at your neck in the process. You did not have the sense, or the decency, to stop. Instead, you picked up a kitchen knife.
“You then carried out the most appalling attack on this defenceless girl, repeatedly stabbing her to the face and neck.
“The pain and terror she must have suffered in her last moments, as your frenzied knife attack continued, is beyond imagining.
“Not able to face up to what you had done, you then attempted to cover up this dreadful crime.
“First, and most chillingly, you left Ellie on the floor with the knife embedded in her throat and her left hand around the handle of the knife.
“I have no doubt that you arranged the scene in order that it would appear to those who found Ellie that she had been killed, not by another person, but instead by her own hand or in some terrible accident.”
The judge said that Ellie’s father had initially believed that the wounds had been self-inflicted.
“There can be no more dreadful scene for any parent to contemplate than that which confronted Ellie’s father when he came home that day from work.
Speaking to Griffiths, he added: “The effect of your actions has not only been to snuff out the life of this bright, intelligent, talented and vivacious young woman with her whole life before her, but also to wreak misery and heartbreak on her family and friends.”
Earlier, in a personal statement to the court, Ms Gould’s mother said that no parent should ever have to hold their dead daughter’s “cold hands” as she did.
The statement also said that Ms Gould had “welcomed the defendant into their house, sat him around the dinner table, celebrated a 17th birthday with him and less than three months later saw that he had murdered their daughter.”
She added that the death of her daughter played constantly on her mind and Mr Gould said his daughter’s death left him feeling “helpless, empty and bitter”.
In mitigation, Sasha Wass QC, representing the defendant, said that Griffiths was an “exceptional” student, and that he had competed in county and international sporting competitions.
She added that Griffiths was “presented with a series of stressful life events,” which included family illnesses and exam worries.
In a letter to the court, the 18-year-old apologised for his actions, saying: “All I feel is remorse for Ellie and her family after I took such a special daughter and sister away from them.”
Griffiths bowed his head as his sentence was passed.