Two teenagers jailed for life for the murder of Brianna Ghey
Two 16-year-olds, now named in open court as Scarlett Jenkinson and Eddie Ratcliffe, have been sentenced to a life term in prison today at Manchester Crown Court after having been convicted of murdering 16-year-old Brianna Ghey.
Scarlett Jenkinson must serve a minimum of 22 years before she can be considered for parole. Eddie Ratcliffe must serve a minimum of 20 years before he can be considered for parole. They will remain on licence for life after release.
The pair were sentenced after the CPS successfully applied for the sentence to reflect that the murder was in part motivated by hostility towards the victim because she was transgender.
The killers, who were 15 at the time, spent months plotting to kill someone. They shared hundreds of WhatsApp messages in the run-up to the murder, sharing fantasies about murder and torture.
The pair had a list of several potential victims that they knew but eventually focused on Brianna Ghey, whom Scarlett had befriended.
Brianna agreed to meet the two in Culcheth, near Warrington on the day of the murder, February 11, 2023. They met at a bus stop and walked to a lonely spot in nearby Linear Park. Brianna was then stabbed 28 times, with a hunting knife that Eddie had brought to the scene, in a ferocious attack.
The two were traced after a police appeal for information and arrested. The Crown Prosecution Service authorised a murder charge for both defendants. They were both equally responsible in planning the killing and carrying it out.
In the trial, the defendants tried to blame each other to absolve themselves of responsibility for the murder. The jury saw their explanations for the lies that they were and following a successful prosecution by the CPS a jury convicted them both of murder on 20 December 2023 at Manchester Crown Court.
During the trial, the CPS put forward evidence which suggested the murder was a hate crime – including WhatsApp messages which used dehumanising language to describe the victim.
Today (2 Feb 2024), the Judge, Mrs Justice Yip, lifted the reporting restriction which had prevented the media from naming the two defendants and sentenced them to life imprisonment with a recommendation that they must serve a minimum of 22 and 20 years before they can be considered for parole.
Senior Crown Prosecutor Nicola Wyn Williams of CPS Mersey Cheshire said: “This sentencing hearing concludes one of the most disturbing cases that the CPS has had to deal with.
“At just 16, Scarlett Jenkinson and Eddie Ratcliffe are convicted killers, responsible for the brutal murder of a young girl who thought they were friends.
“The planning, violence and the age of the killers is beyond belief. The two appear to have had a deadly influence on each other and turned what may have started out as dark fantasies about murder into a reality.
“The messages between the two provided a terrifying insight into the warped desires and fantasies of the two defendants. However, they also provided us with the motivation behind the attack, the plans and then the attempts to cover it up.
“The Crown Prosecution Service presented all the evidence in this case for the jury to consider, including the hateful and dehumanising language used to describe Brianna.
“We applied to the Judge for an increase in the defendants’ sentences because we believed this killing was a hate crime, motivated in part by hostility towards Brianna because she was transgender. We are pleased that the Court has agreed that this was a motive.
“Today’s sentence reflects the brutality of two killers’ heartless crime – and while it cannot erase the pain of Brianna’s loss, we hope it brings some closure.
“The Crown Prosecution Service would again like to thank Brianna’s family for the courage and dignity they have shown throughout the proceedings and our thoughts and sympathies remain with them at this difficult time.”