Gracie Spinks died from stab wound to neck, inquest hears

A 23-year-old woman thought to have been killed by her alleged stalker died from a stab wound to the neck, an inquest heard.

Gracie Spinks was found fatally injured in a field in Duckmanton, Derbyshire, where she had gone to care for her horse.

It is believed she was stabbed by Michael Sellers, a former colleague who was found dead in a field nearby. A postmortem suggested his death was self-inflicted although no formal conclusion has been reached as a toxicology report is not yet available.

Friends said Spinks had been stalked by Sellers in the weeks before her death, and it is thought she had issued a restraining order against him.

Giving evidence at Chesterfield coroner’s court on Wednesday, DC Graham Barrick, from Derbyshire police, said Spinks was found unconscious at 8am on 18 June next to a patch of blood. One witness saw a male running away, he added.

One of the witnesses carried out CPR and it was initially believed she had been kicked by her horse, Paddy, the court heard.

Paramedics arrived at 8.17am and realised she had been assaulted with a weapon so called the police. After failing to resuscitate her, Spinks was pronounced dead at 8.50am.

A postmortem found she had died from a stab wound to the neck that cut through an artery and her spine. Barrick said there was no evidence Spinks had been sexually assaulted.

Separate inquests into the deaths of Spinks and Sellers opened on Wednesday morning, with the assistant coroner, Matthew Kewley, cautioning against rumour and speculation on Spinks’ death, which could hinder the investigation.

Spinks, who lived in Old Whittington, was a swimming instructor and lifeguard but was working as a warehouse operative at the time of her death, the court heard. She was last seen alive by her mother, Alison Heaton, on the morning of her death.

Sellers, 35, who was unemployed, was last seen by his family at home in Sheffield at 6.30am on 18 June before he left in his car.

When his body was discovered at 11am, he was unresponsive and cold to the touch, Barrick said.

Derbyshire police has referred itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct over previous contact with Spinks earlier this year, and full inquests will be held after their investigation has concluded.


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