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‘It’s like a nightmare’: Desperate 999 call by dog walker who found Brianna Ghey after park stabbing

Girl and boy, both now aged 16, on trial for murder of the 16-year-old in park near Warrington in February

Tara Cobham
in Manchester
Thursday 30 November 2023 17:28 GMT
CCTV footage shows Brianna Ghey on bus to Culcheth on day she was stabbed to death

The desperate 999 call made by a dog walker who found the body of Brianna Ghey in what felt like living in a “nightmare” has been played at the trial of two youths accused of murdering the teenager.

The defendants, identified only as girl X and boy Y, are accused of murdering Brianna, a 16-year-old transgender girl who was stabbed 28 times in a “sustained and violent” attack in Culcheth Linear Park, near Warrington, Cheshire, on 11 February.

Both defendants, aged 15 at the time, and now 16, deny murder. They blame each other for the killing, the jury has heard. Neither defendant can be named because of their ages.

Brianna Ghey, a 16-year-old transgender girl, was stabbed 28 times in a ‘sustained and violent’ attack (PA)

On Thursday, prosecutor Deanna Heer KC played the jury at Manchester Crown Court the harrowing 999 call, made at 3.13pm on 11 February by Kathryn Vize.

She was with her husband Andrew walking their two dogs through some woods in the park when they saw a male and female on the path ahead of them and subsequently came across Brianna, dying, the court heard.

Ms Vize can be heard initially in shock, telling the call handler that “somebody has been attacked”, possibly stabbed, and “the attackers have run away”, later describing the suspects as a girl and a boy, both teenagers.

Police forensics officers at the scene in Culcheth Linear Park near Warrington, Cheshire (PA)

A distressed Ms Vize breathes heavily and repeats, “Oh God” throughout the call, describing the incident as “like one of those nightmares”. She said: “I don’t know if she’s alive ... I don’t want to touch her. It’s an absolute mess.”

Ms Vize described Brianna as “heavily bleeding”, wearing a “shirt soaked in blood”, her face “covered in blood” and what appeared to be a “weeping blood wound on her back”. She said: “She’s got blood on her legs, she’s got blood on her back – she’s really hurt ... We thought she was a dummy at first. She’s really badly hurt.”

When asked if the couple were able to give first aid to Brianna, Ms Vize is heard crying as she replies: “I don’t think there’s anything you can do for her. I really don’t think there is.” She screams, “I don’t know. It’s awful,” begging emergency services to “please hurry up”. The call ends when Ms Vize can be heard telling the operator she sees the police.

Esther Ghey (left), mother of Brianna, arrives at Manchester Crown Court ahead of the trial (REUTERS)

In her witness interview the following day, Ms Vize said she had been on a dog walk with her husband when she spotted a male bending down and over something up ahead, before he and a female, who had been standing to the male’s left, were seen “lolloping” away into a farmer’s field.

“The lollop was so suspicious. Their pace quickened up when they saw us,” she told police in a film of the interview shown to the jury, adding that there were a few seconds when the girl stopped and “made eye contact with me”.

In his police interview, which was also played to the jury, Mr Vize described seeing a couple walking in a field to their right at quite a fast pace. He described them as “furtive” and “hurried” and said he briefly made eye contact with the male. He added: “I was aware that they had clocked us. It almost made them sort of pace in their speed, so they reacted to seeing us in that suspicious way.”

Brianna Ghey, 16, was found with fatal wounds on a path in Culcheth Linear Park in February (PA)

Ms Heer previously told the court: “Mrs Vize saw the male bend down, bending over, as if to tend to a dog, before both he and the female left the path and made their way into an adjacent field, breaking into a run as they did so.

“As they continued along the path, Mr and Mrs Vize discovered that it was not a dog that the male had been bending over, but the bloodied body of a young woman lying face down in the mud.”

Mr Vize told police he thought he saw Brianna’s chest move. He added: “I bent down to try to see signs of life and obviously to speak to her to say ‘hang in, we’re phoning the police’.”

Peter Spooner, father of Brianna, arrives with his partner at Manchester Crown Court ahead of the trial (REUTERS)

Ms Vize told police she was “frightened” upon crouching down to look at Brianna. “There was a lot of blood,” she said. “I thought she had thick, white tights on, but she didn’t – it was her skin, she was so white. It was awful, it was awful.

“If somebody was alive, she wouldn’t be in that contorted position – she looked like a rag doll.”

Ms Vize told police she then rang 999 to report a serious attack. She added: “I can’t say she was dead for sure. I felt she was dead and I just felt very, very frightened and just thought if there’s any chance of help for this poor girl we need to get onto the police straight away.”

Brianna with her mother Esther Ghey (Esther Ghey)

The court heard on Thursday afternoon of the moment PC Andrew Chadwick, from Cheshire Constabulary, was called to the scene following Ms Vize’s 999 call. In his statement written in the wake of the incident, he described finding Brianna’s body “heavily blood-soaked and not moving”, with hair “clumped together with blood”.

Upon rolling Brianna over to begin CPR, he saw warm blood around the back of her neck, the court heard. “It became apparent she had been stabbed in a number of different places,” PC Chadwick said, adding he was unable to find a pulse. “There were wounds to her neck and throat that were haemorrhaging catastrophically.”

Jurors heard paramedics and an air ambulance crew joined PC Chadwick in efforts to save Brianna, but she was pronounced dead at the scene at 4.02pm.

The coffin of Brianna Ghey is carried into St Elphin’s Parish Church in Warrington in March (PA Wire)

Ms Heer previously told the court Brianna had been stabbed 28 times, to the head, neck, back and chest, in a “sustained and violent assault”.

Ms Heer argued there was no dispute that the male and female seen running away from Brianna’s body were the two defendants.

Both of the accused have pleaded not guilty and have denied any involvement in Brianna’s killing.

During cross-examination, Ms Vize was asked about the moment she spotted the male and female where Brianna’s body was discovered. Richard Littler KC, defending boy Y, asked: “You didn’t see any violence or aggression? ... And you didn’t hear a commotion, or indeed any noise?” To both questions, she replied, “No.”

The trial continues.

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