Ashley Wadsworth: new documentary about her murder to air 2 March
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“It’s too late to save Ashley but it’s not too late to save yourself or someone you love.”
Those are the words of Christy Gendron, grieving mother of Canadian teenager Ashley Wadsworth, murdered by Jack Sepple in Chelmsford in February 2022.
It comes as a new documentary explores the relationship between Ashley and the man who admitted murdering her and shows how detectives in Essex secured justice for Ashley and her family when Sepple was jailed for a minimum of 23-and-a-half years in October 2022.
The documentary, part of the Social Media Murders series entitled The Murder of Ashley Wadsworth, reasserts our commitment to tackling domestic abuse and is due to be aired on ITVX on Thursday 2 March.
As a force, domestic abuse is a key priority and our officers work tirelessly every day to keep victims of domestic abuse safe.
Investment into the Domestic Abuse Problem Solving Teams (DAPST) - who are dedicated, specialist officers, who work alongside partners and charities - has seen their focus and determination to break the cycle of domestic abuse result in 279 more crimes being solved in the 12 months to January 2023 - equivalent to a 9.3% increase – than the previous year.
Changes made to the way officers assess the risk posed by domestic abuse perpetrators and safeguard victims means in the last year, we have seen a 6.2% reduction in reported domestic abuse crimes: that’s almost 1,900 less crimes in the 12 months to January 2023.
In a new approach, our #Reflect campaign, launched in 2022 with the support of SETDAB – the Southend, Essex and Thurrock Domestic Abuse Partnership – urges perpetrators to look at their own behaviour, whether physical abuse, controlling behaviour, stalking or harassment, and to seek help to protect the ones they love.
Speaking ahead of the documentary, Detective Superintendent Scott Egerton who led the murder investigation, said
“In every detective’s career, there is always one case that stays with them. This is my case. “I was on my way home when I got the call to come back to the office and I remember seeing the scene for the first time. It was truly shocking. In that split second, I knew we had to secure justice for Ashley - a young woman who had her life ahead of her, but for Jack Sepple’s actions that day. “This documentary is Ashley’s legacy. I’d urge anyone who is, or has been, or knows someone who is suffering domestic abuse, to come forward and make a report. We will listen to you and support you. “As Ashley’s mum Christy states, it is tragically too late for Ashley, but I know I speak for everyone at Essex Police when I say we are doing everything we can to ensure domestic abuse victims are identified and supported to leave those relationships.”
Christy Gendron, Ashley’s mother’s quote in full:
“My daughter, Ashley, is sorely missed every day. She was our ray of sunshine, confident, bright, and warm. “What happened to Ashley unfortunately happens every day all over the world. Everyone needs to know how easily people can be manipulated and controlled by these creeps who prey on vulnerable and loving individuals. There is help out there for people involved in these types of violent and controlling relationships. If you or someone you know is going through this, then please reach out for help to authorities immediately. “Authorities can help safeguard victims and bring perpetrators to justice before it’s too late. I wish I had known about Claire’s Law before Ashley left for England. Please, do your research on partners before you meet them. We tried to look up Jack Sepple’s previous criminal history but were unsuccessful to find any charges or convictions. “We should have reached out ahead of time through Claire’s law. We learned the hardest lesson of all! Our beautiful Ashley flew to England excited, alive and well, but sadly flew home in a box. “Please be warned and leave these violent, toxic and dangerous relationships now. If your gut tells you something isn’t right then, please, trust that feeling and intervene right away, even if they say it’s fine and they’re ok. “The most dangerous time for a victim of domestic violence is when they decide to end the relationship and leave. “Call police to help them pack up their belongings and escort them out of there to safety. “It’s too late to save Ashley but it’s not too late to save yourself or someone you love.”
If you enter a relationship with someone new and start to feel a little unsure about the situation, there are steps you can take.
Clare's Law gives any member of the public the right to ask the police if their partner may pose a risk to them.