Died 18th February 2014

Holly Gazzard (20) was fatally stabbed on 18th February 2014 in the Fringe Benefits hairdessing salon in which she worked in Gloucester. She was stabbed 14 times.

Emergency services were called to the scene and Ms Gazzard was taken to hospital but later died from her injuries.

In June 2014 Ms Gazzard’s former boyfriend Asher Maslin (22) admitted murder at Bristol Crown Court. Consequently, prosecutor Stephen Mooney did not open the case. Judge Neil Ford QC, the Recorder of Bristol, remanded Maslin into custody to be sentenced by a High Court judge.

Judge Ford told Maslin: “Your sentencing will take place on a date to be fixed in the relative near future. You appreciate that the only sentence that can be imposed is one – imprisonment for life. It will be for the sentencing judge to determine the minimum term you will serve before you become eligible for parole.”

Ms Gazzard’s family, including her mother Mandy, father Nick and elder sister Chloe, attended court. Hollie Gazzard’s family described her as “a popular and much-loved young woman” adding that the “very public nature of her death has affected a great many people across the community”.

Shortly after her death, the family said “the brightest star” in their lives had gone out. In a statement issued through Gloucestershire Police, they said: “Hollie is our daughter and she was a beautiful, happy and loving girl. Everybody she came in contact with loved her, enjoyed her company, her happy nature and her sense of fun.” They added: “She was at the beginning of life and to have it taken away in this manner is very hard to bear. The only comfort we have at this time is that Hollie is now free and at peace and that no harm can ever come to her.”

Since Ms Gazzard’s death, her family have set up a charitable trust in her name, to sponsor the training of young hairdressers and contribute towards the fight against domestic violence. In April 2014, hundreds of people took part in a walk from Gloucester to Cheltenham to raise money for the charitable trust.

Detective Chief Inspector Steve Bean, the senior investigating officer, said: “This was a spiteful and cowardly attack by a self-obsessed individual who couldn’t handle rejection.”

DCI Bean added “He has shown no remorse, he made a ‘no comment’ interview and has not shown any kind of feeling or emotion. There were a couple of previous, fairly minor, domestic incidents, and nothing to indicate what he went on to do. This murder happened in such a public place and those witnesses were severely traumatised by what they saw.” (Please see below the FOD Comment on this statement)

The court heard Maslin purchased a knife shortly before going to the salon. Reports after her death indicated that Ms Gazzard had ended their relationship a month before she was killed.

At the time, Kayleigh Bishop, reported to be a friend, said that in 2013 Ms Gazzard had briefly moved in with Maslin.

Ms Gazzard was nearing the end of her shift when Maslin walked in and attacked in front of colleagues and customers. Police searched a building site near the scene and recovered a knife.

Ms Gazzard attended Chosen Hill School in Churchdown, near Gloucester, then trained as a hairdresser at the Reflections chain of salons.

Ms Gazzard had previously worked at Zest bar in Eastgate Street, Gloucester. Rich Payne, owner of Zest, paid tribute to her. He said: “She was beautiful. She was absolutely loved by everyone who met her. She was an amazing person. We are all heartbroken to hear what has happened. She was beautiful. She always had a smile on her face with her big white teeth on show. She was always happy and got on with anyone. I just want everyone to know how amazing she was. She was so petite, just 5ft 1ins and tiny, it is hard to see how anyone could hurt her. We are all so shocked and heartbroken by what has happened. It must have been horrific for everyone involved.”

On the Fringe Benefits website Ms Gazzard wrote: “I have always known this path was for me as I have always taken a passionate interest in hair and fashion. I am a very passionate individual and take great pride in my work so can offer all my clients a unique professional and personal experience. I am a fully qualified and experienced level 3 hair designer, with a blend of in salon and academy training. I have recently worked on a cruise ship which was an enlightening experience but was not for me. I am now back in my home city and very excited to join Fringe Benefits and be part of their lovely team. I enjoy spending my free time with friends and family and going on shopping trips. I also like to keep fit and own a Pomeranian dog which keeps me on my toes.”

In December Ms Gazzard wrote on Facebook: “Why are people so selfish?! If a person isn’t happy within the relationship why try and make them stay?!”

Members of the public filmed the incident on their phone. Police asked them not to post film on social media websites and to provide it to police for evidential purposes.

It was reported that officers were called out as a result of a man allegedly attacking a woman at a shop in Southgate Street, Gloucester, at about 5.50pm on Monday 17th February 2014, the day before Ms Gazzard died.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has launched an investigation into Gloucestershire Police’s contact with Ms Gazzard before her death.

As he was driven away from court the killer made an obscene gesture. There had been investigations as to whether there were any psychiatric issues in the case, but the court heard there were not.

Note: This report was drawn from the Daily Mail and the BBC.

FOD Comment:

We note SCI Bean’s comment that “There were a couple of previous, fairly minor, domestic incidents, and nothing to indicate what he went on to do.”. The truth is that few domestic attacks come to the attention of police and so they should take all of them very seriously. Most domestic homicides are preceded by threats and assaults, many of which are not taken seriously by police. If the police exercised a policy of zero tolerance of all such attacks, it would prevent many homicides.

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