Two mothers whose daughters were stabbed to death by ex-partners bid to change law on weapons


Two mothers whose daughters were murdered by their ex-boyfriends have joined forces in a bid to change the law over prison sentences.

Ellie Gould, 17, and Poppy Devey Waterhouse, 24, were both brutally stabbed by former partners.

Both deaths involved kitchen knives which were found at the murder scene – which the victims’ mothers think could have reduced the jail terms.

Current guidelines state if the killer brings a weapon to the scene they should be jailed for longer. 

Carole Gould and Julie Devey are now campaigning for longer sentences for using weapons which are already present.

Poppy Devey Waterhouse

Two mothers whose daughters were murdered by their ex-boyfriends have joined forces in a bid to change the law over prison sentences. Ellie Gould (left), 17, and Poppy Devey Waterhouse (right), 24, were both tragically stabbed by former partners

Ms Devey told the BBC: ‘How is her murderer to be seen as less violent, less dangerous, as somebody who stabbed somebody once or twice that they don’t know, in the park?’

Ms Gould added: ‘These cases…are happening all the time, and yet the government is simply not interested in changing sentencing so the punishment fits the crime.’

Ellie was murdered at her home in Calne, Wiltshire, in May last year by Thomas Griffiths after she broke off their relationship.

The killer, now 18, was sentenced to 12-and-a-half years after stabbing his ex-girlfriend 13 times in the neck.

Poppy, originally from Frome, Somerset, was murdered by her former boyfriend Joe Atkinson in 2018.

Carole Gould (pictured) and Julie Devey are now campaigning for longer sentences for using weapons already at the crime scene

Carole Gould (pictured) and Julie Devey are now campaigning for longer sentences for using weapons already at the crime scene

Ms Devey (pictured with her son Zeb outside court after her daughter's killer Joe Atkinson was jailed for life in 2019) told the BBC: 'How is her murderer to be seen as less violent, less dangerous, as somebody who stabbed somebody once or twice that they don't know, in the park?'

Ms Devey (pictured with her son Zeb outside court after her daughter’s killer Joe Atkinson was jailed for life in 2019) told the BBC: ‘How is her murderer to be seen as less violent, less dangerous, as somebody who stabbed somebody once or twice that they don’t know, in the park?’

She was killed in a flat in Leeds, Yorkshire, where she suffered around 70 knife injuries all over body.

Atkinson, 25, was sentenced to a minimum of 15 years and 310 days behind bars.

Both murders involved kitchen knives which were already at the girls’ homes. 

Current guidelines state that if a weapon is taken to the murder scene, the starting point for a sentence is 25 years – but for other offences it is 15 years.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice said: ‘All murder rightly carries a life sentence and it is for judges to decide the minimum prison term.’

Friends of Ellie previously launched a campaign to get self-defence classes made compulsory in school following her death.

The idea was debated in Parliament but has since stalled following the outbreak of coronavirus.

In September, Ms Gould said she knew the moment she heard the news of her daughter’s death that controlling Griffiths was the killer.    

Poppy, originally from Frome, Somerset, was murdered by her former boyfriend Joe Atkinson (left) in 2018

Ellie was murdered at her home in Calne, Wiltshire, in May last year by Thomas Griffiths (right) after she broke off their relationship

Poppy, originally from Frome, Somerset, was murdered by her former boyfriend Joe Atkinson (left) in 2018.  Ellie was murdered at her home in Calne, Wiltshire, in May last year by Thomas Griffiths (right) after she broke off their relationship

Ellie’s father Matthew, 52, returned from work at lunchtime to find the lifeless body of his daughter lying on the kitchen floor in a pool of blood. 

Speaking to new podcast, Real Fix, which features extraordinary true stories, she said: ‘The weekend before [her death] she told me he’d been pestering her to go to his house constantly.

‘She told me that he’d been acting odd that week, and quite controlling of her when she wasn’t with him.

‘The day that she was killed, she was at home revising waiting for her friend to pick her up to take her to her history class.

In September, Ms Gould said she knew the moment she heard the news of her daughter's death that controlling Griffiths was the killer

In September, Ms Gould said she knew the moment she heard the news of her daughter’s death that controlling Griffiths was the killer

‘My husband Matthew came home first, and rang me hysterically. He said I had to come home, because Ellie had had a terrible accident.

‘I jumped in the car and had all these thoughts rushing through my head, then a police car sped past me with the sirens on.

‘There were so many ambulances and police cars outside the house that I had to park down the street, and I sprinted up the drive to find Matt sobbing.

And last year, on the day Atkinson was jailed, grief-stricken Ms Devey spoke in harrowing detail of visiting the flat where Poppy was stabbed to death.

She was subjected to a ‘long and brutal’ death at the hands of her university sweetheart Atkinson, who also had a masters degree in maths, at the flat they shared in Leeds.

Joe Atkinson (left) was handed a minimum sentence of 15 years today after pleading guilty to the murder of his ex-girlfriend Poppy Devey Waterhouse (right)

And last year, on the day Atkinson was jailed, grief-stricken Ms Devey spoke in harrowing detail of visiting the flat where Poppy was stabbed to death. Pictured: Poppy with Atkinson 

Atkinson killed Poppy in an attack ‘fuelled by jealousy’ two months after she broke off their three-year relationship.   

In an emotional impact statement Ms Devey revealed how she ‘kept scraping my hands across the floorboards where she had been left screaming’ after visiting the blood-soaked flat where she died.

‘I just wanted to scoop her up and save her,’ she added. ‘I sank to the floor sobbing and screaming, I kept clawing at the carpet screaming ‘no, no, no’.’ 

Her tearful father Rupert Waterhouse also spoke of the ‘great pain’ of not being ‘there for my daughter when she needed me most’.

‘I could only kiss her cold forehead when it was too late and tell her I love her,’ he said, adding how Poppy was murdered ‘by the man that she loved and trusted’.

The ‘eloquence and incredible testimonial’ of each of Poppy’s family members was praised by the defendant’s family, as Atkinson’s lawyer said of him: ‘There were absolutely no signs from anybody about what might come’.

He added that it was a ‘complete departure from everything that had defined this 25-year-old to date.’

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