A Chippenham schoolboy who stabbed his ex-girlfriend, Calne's Ellie Gould, to death after she ended their relationship to focus on her studies attempted to subject her to “coercive control” before murdering her, a review has found.

The Domestic Homicide Review into the murder of 17-year-old Ellie by Thomas Griffiths noted how the killer tried to disrupt Ellie’s study attempts, a form of behaviour known as “educational sabotage”.

The review said it was “alarming” how quickly their separation escalated to murder.

No agency failings or shortcomings were identified in the review, although its recommendations included promoting the support available for young people in Wiltshire concerned about domestic abuse or controlling behaviour.

The review stated: “In this case, the perpetrator appeared to be disrupting Ellie’s studying during an important period of revision, displayed insecurities and appeared to be inducing guilt.

"Ellie sought a break from the perpetrator during their revision for mock A-level exams, but the perpetrator appeared not to accept this. His disruption of her studies thereafter should be seen within the context of educational sabotage.”

It described educational sabotage as “a less known form of coercive control and economic abuse which disrupts a victim’s ability to gain educational qualifications and furthers a perpetrator’s power and control over them”.

Ellie bravely attempted to fight off then 17-year-old Griffiths after he attacked her with a kitchen knife at her family home in Calne in May 2019, before he staged the scene to make it look like a suicide and returned to Hardenhuish School, which they both attended.

Griffiths was later sentenced to a minimum of 12 years and six months imprisonment after admitting killing Ellie.

The Chair of the Wiltshire Community Safety Partnership, Wiltshire Police Assistant Chief Constable Mark Cooper said: “The tributes from Ellie’s family and friends paint a picture of a vibrant, popular girl who touched the lives of many people in our community.

“Her murder, understandably, has left a lasting impact on so many and I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to Ellie’s family and friends who have campaigned tirelessly in her memory.

“Due to the circumstances surrounding Ellie’s murder, it was right that an independent review was commissioned in order to identify any learning which could assist agencies in the future.

“The independent panel found no shortcomings of any agency but have made four recommendations which centre on continued promotion of support services available to young people and their families in our county.

“Tackling domestic abuse and violence, in all its forms, is every agency’s responsibility and we will continue to work together to ensure we are doing all we can to support victims and educate everyone on this issue.”

Cllr Ashley O’Neill, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Public Protection at Wiltshire Council said: “Our thoughts are with Ellie’s family and friends who are living every day with the unspeakable tragedy of losing a loved one to an appalling murder. They have shown incredible bravery and dignity in the face of the most difficult circumstances.

“This independent report shines a light on the work we can all do to heighten awareness and encourage people to speak out if they have concerns about domestic abuse. We will work tirelessly with our partners to ensure people know how to spot the signs of domestic abuse and how they can access support.”

The review's recommendations are:

Recommendation 1: That Wiltshire Community Safety Partnership further promotes with agencies, the indicators of domestic abuse in young people’s relationships and promotes the sources of help and information available to family and friends

Recommendation 2: That Wiltshire Community Safety Partnership considers and responds to the evaluation of the pilot of the Young Person’s Independent Domestic Violence Advisor being delivered by Splitz Support Service

Recommendation 3: That Wiltshire Community Safety Partnership should, through local commissioners and specialist services, promote access to specialist domestic abuse services and pathways for young people aged 16 and over.

Recommendation 4: That Wiltshire Community Safety Partnership considers how evidence-based best practice in whole school approaches to healthy relationships, can be shared and consolidated across Wiltshire schools.