Ellie Gould: Murdered girl's friends call for self-defence lessons

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image copyrightFamily handout
image captionEllie Gould was murdered by her ex-boyfriend at her home

The friends of a teenager who was stabbed to death by her ex-boyfriend are campaigning for self-defence lessons to be taught in schools.

Ellie Gould, 17, was killed by Thomas Griffiths, who was jailed for life for her murder in November.

Her friend Tilda Offen said if Ellie had "just known the simplest technique to get him off her she would still have her life".

North Wiltshire MP James Gray is supporting their campaign.

He said he intended to raise the idea in Parliament and said if self-defence were taught in schools then a potential murderer "would realise he would have met his match".

Griffiths, 17, admitted stabbing Ellie repeatedly in the neck in a "frenzied attack" in May before trying to make it appear her wounds were self-inflicted.

The court heard Griffiths spent an hour at the house in Calne, Wiltshire, before he drove home, changed his clothes and dumped a bag of Ellie's items in a wood.

image captionEllie's friends and her mother (second from left) are campaigning for self-defence to be taught

Ellie's family had called for his jail term of life with a minimum of 12-and-a-half years to be increased but this was turned down by the Court of Appeal.

A group of her friends and her mother Carole Gould have written to Home Secretary Priti Patel to question the length of his jail term, given Griffiths was almost an adult.

They have also written to the Minister of State for Education Nick Gibb calling for self-defence to be made compulsory.

Ellie's friends have also called for more education on healthy relationships and warning signs of coercive control.

"That's why I do believe that self-defence is such a big thing that needs to be introduced into our school system because it could give a potential victim a chance of being able to escape their attacker," her friend Tilda said.

Another close friend, Harriet Adams, added: "When Griffiths comes out after his mere 12 years in prison, he's going to have a second chance at life and a whole other life to restart and our Ellie isn't going to because of his actions.

"With us pushing for self-defence classes to be a mandatory part of physical education, we like the idea that we are preserving and helping to protect other young, vulnerable people."

image copyrightWiltshire Police
image captionThomas Griffiths was 17 when he killed Ellie in her family home

Mr Gray, who is the Conservative MP for North Wiltshire, said there was no routine self-defence training in the national curriculum.

"You're not talking here about judo, just basic self-defence techniques," he said.

"If that was taught to all kids all the way through school then it would significantly reduce crime because the potential criminal, murderer or rapist would realise he would have met his match."

A Department for Education spokesperson said there were no plans to make self-defence mandatory, but "schools have flexibility to provide this should they choose".

"As part of the new relationships and sex education curriculum, pupils will be taught the characteristics of positive and healthy relationships, as well as types of behaviour within relationships that are criminal, violent and include coercive control," the spokesperson added.

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