Brianna Ghey’s teenage murderers named ahead of sentencing | Knife crime

Two teenagers who murdered Brianna Ghey have been named for the first time before sentencing.

Scarlett Jenkinson and Eddie Ratcliffe, both 16 and described by police as “really intelligent kids”, can now be named as the killers after a judge lifted reporting restrictions.

Manchester crown court heard that since her conviction, Jenkinson had admitted taking part in the stabbing of Brianna, 16, an “out and proud” transgender girl with a large TikTok following. Jenkinson had previously blamed Ratcliffe for the murder.

Brianna Ghey was described as an ‘out and proud’ trans girl with a large TikTok following. Photograph: PA

She told a psychiatrist she had stabbed Brianna “repeatedly” and had found it “exciting”, and that she killed her because she thought Brianna would stop being her friend. She murdered Brianna so she would “always be with her”, the court heard.

Deanna Heer KC, prosecuting, said a psychiatrist who had previously assessed Jenkinson went to see her in the secure unit where she has been held since her arrest.

“On that occasion she gave a different account. She said effectively … that at the time of the killing she had in fact administered stab wounds herself. She said she had snatched the knife from Eddie’s hand and stabbed Brianna repeatedly. She said that Eddie had thrown Brianna to the floor and stabbed her three and four times, then he panicked and said he didn’t want to kill her, so she carried on and stabbed her a number of times. When asked how many she said ‘a lot’.

“She said she understood she had stabbed Brianna enough times to kill her and was excited by what she was doing.

“She said she enjoyed thinking about the plan to kill Brianna but her motivation for doing so was because she considered Brianna a friend and anticipated that Brianna was going to leave her and she wanted to kill her so that she would always be with her.”

Jenkinson also admitted to the psychiatrist that she “intended to take parts of Brianna’s body as a token”. She had previously told Radcliffe she wanted to keep Brianna’s “pretty eyes”.

The court heard that Brianna was stabbed 28 times, but there is no evidence that any of her body parts were taken by her killers.

Screengrab taken from CCTV showing Jenkinson (marked X) and Ratcliffe (marked as Y) meeting Brianna (marked as BG) at a bus stop on the day of her murder. Photograph: Cheshire constabulary/PA

In addition, Jenkinson admitted she had tried to poison Brianna a few weeks before the murder with red ibuprofen tablets “pretending that they would get her high”. The court heard Brianna was very ill around that time, and that her mother, Esther Ghey, thought she had appendicitis. She recalled Brianna being very sick, and there were red blobs in her vomit, which she thought at the time were red grape skins.

Jenkinson and Ratcliffe met, aged 11, at Culcheth high school in Warrington and stayed friends after Scarlett moved to Birchwood high school in autumn 2022, following an incident involving her bringing cannabis edibles into class.

It was at Birchwood that Jenkinson befriended Brianna, who did not attend ordinary lessons because of problems with anxiety and an eating disorder.

Jenkinson, whose mother is a secondary school teacher, told Ratcliffe she had become “obsessed” with Brianna, and she soon put her on a list of children the teenagers wanted to kill. The others were four boys they disliked: one Ratcliffe thought was a “nonce”, another the boy considered a love rival, and two who had been mean to Jenkinson’s boyfriend.

Heer told the court that “another kill list” had since been found in the secure unit where Jenkinson is being held that referred to “a number of people who were caring for her”.

Screengrab taken from bodyworn police video showing the arrest of Jenkinson. Photograph: Cheshire constabulary/PA

Brianna became their focus after they failed to lure one of the others out via a fake social media profile. She would be “easier” to kill, they agreed, in one of thousands of text messages exchanged in the run-up to the murder on 11 February last year.

The teenagers plotted her murder meticulously at the age of 15, with Jenkinson handwriting a plan for how, where and when they would stab Brianna. They even had a code word – “gay” – to signal the start of the attack in Culcheth Linear Park in Warrington.

They carried it out almost to the letter, stabbing Brianna 28 times before they were disturbed by a couple walking their dogs.

Afterwards, they sent each other a series of media reports about the killing, feigning ignorance about the attack.

But the mask soon slipped, with Jenkinson asking Ratcliffe: “Do you have anxiety about getting caught?” He said: “Probably,” to which she replied: “You’re not going to get caught don’t worry. Police are shite here.”

Ratcliffe met Brianna for the first time on the day of the murder. While planning the killing, he repeatedly referred to her not as “she”, but “it” and said he “just wanted to see what size dick it has”. Giving evidence, he insisted he was not transphobic, and blamed the murder on Jenkinson.

But it was his hunting knife, bought on a ski trip to Bulgaria over the 2022-23 Christmas break, that was used to stab Brianna.

Police found it in his bedroom after his arrest, the day after the killing. Brianna’s DNA and his were detected on the knife. Brianna’s blood was also discovered on his shoes and coat.

There was no forensic evidence linking Jenkinson to the weapon, and no spots of blood were found on her clothing. After her arrest, Jenkinson made up a story about Brianna “going off with a lad from Manchester” but then blamed Ratcliffe when confronted with the extent of evidence against the pair.

In the dock, the teenagers never looked at each other and were separated by security guards and intermediaries employed to ensure they understood the court process.

The prosecution told the jury they did not have to decide which teenager killed Brianna, or whether they both stabbed her, because it was a joint enterprise murder.

Ursula Doyle, the deputy chief crown prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “It was never necessary to prove who inflicted what wound upon Brianna. The case was that they planned it together, they attended the scene together. And effectively, one or both of them carried out the actual act.”

Both killers had relatively stable home lives, with their parents sitting in the courtroom during the trial while Brianna’s mother, Esther Ghey, watched from the public balcony.

The teenagers were “both really intelligent kids”, according to DS Mike Evans, the head of crime for Cheshire police.

Screengrab of Ratcliffe during his police interview. Photograph: Cheshire constabulary/PA

Though Ratcliffe was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder after his arrest, and Jenkinson with “traits” of autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, both were “quite high-functioning”, said Evans. “I think that’s brought a level of arrogance or certainly confidence,” he added, describing them as “two warped individuals”.

Manchester crown court heard that after he was charged with Brianna’s murder, Ratcliffe stopped talking. He was diagnosed with “selective mutism”, speaking only to his mother. The trial was delayed for months as his legal team struggled to take instructions from him.

When it eventually began, at the end of last year, he was given special dispensation by the judge, Mrs Justice Yip, to type his evidence, telling the jury that science was his favourite subject at school and he had wanted to study microbiology at university.

Giving evidence, Jenkinson admitted to an obsession with what her barrister called “dark materials” but said it was all fantasy that she had never acted on.

She had downloaded a special browser on her phone to watch “real” murders and torture on the dark web, and kept detailed notes about serial killers including Richard Ramirez, the “Night Stalker”.

Days before the murder, Jenkinson said she was “excited AF [as fuck]” and that she wanted “to see the pure horror on [Brianna’s face] and hear her scream in pain”.

The prosecution did not have to offer a motive for the murder. Interviewed by police, Ratcliffe suggested Jenkinson hated Brianna because she “tried to break her and her boyfriend up”, which Jenkinson viewed as “unforgivable”.

Giving evidence, Jenkinson insisted she and Brianna remained friends, and that she found her attractive.

Cheshire police said they did not believe the murder was motivated by transphobia. “I think if it hadn’t been Brianna, it would have been one of the other four children on that list,” Evans said. “It’s just that Brianna was the one who was accessible at that time, and then became the focus of those desires.”

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