Brianna Ghey’s ‘sadistic and transphobic’ killers jailed for life

Transgender teenager Brianna Ghey suffered a ‘brutal’ and ‘sadistic’ death at the hands of Scarlett Jenkinson and Eddie Ratcliffe

Pat Hurst
Friday 02 February 2024 21:58 GMT
Scarlett Jenkinson and Eddie Ratcliffe have been sentenced to life in prison, with a minimum of 22 years and 20 years respectively (Cheshire Constabulary/PA)
Scarlett Jenkinson and Eddie Ratcliffe have been sentenced to life in prison, with a minimum of 22 years and 20 years respectively (Cheshire Constabulary/PA) (PA Media)

A girl and a boy are tonight starting life sentences for the “sadistic” murder of transgender teenager Brianna Ghey.

Scarlett Jenkinson had “enjoyed” the killing, the excitement causing her to stab Brianna more times and she found the thought of violence “sexually arousing,” with a desire to kill again, Manchester Crown Court heard.

Her accomplice Eddie Ratcliffe had also expressed transphobia about his victim, Mrs Justice Yip ruled.

Jenkinson must serve a minimum of 22 years before parole and Ratcliffe 20 years.

The judge said the “exceptionally brutal” murder had elements of both sadism by Jenkinson and transphobic hate on the part of Ratcliffe.

Passing sentence Mrs Justice Yip told Ratcliffe: “I therefore find that you both took part in a brutal and planned murder, which was sadistic in nature and where a secondary motive was hostility towards Brianna because of her transgender identity.”

Both were aged 15 when they carried out the “disturbing” plan to murder Brianna, 16, in a “frenzied and ferocious” attack with a hunting knife.

They were identified for the first time as they were sentenced on Friday after the judge lifted a ban on the press naming them.

Anxious and vulnerable, unsuspecting Brianna was stabbed with a hunting knife 28 times in her head, neck, chest and back after being lured to Linear Park, Culcheth, a village near Warrington, Cheshire, on the afternoon of February 11, last year.

Jenkinson, whose parents are teachers and lives close to the park in Culcheth, had been asked to leave her school, Culcheth High, over giving cannabis-laced gummy sweets to another pupil and joined Brianna’s school, Birchwood High, in October 2022 and quickly became “obsessed” with her.

Along with Ratcliffe, from Leigh, whose mother is a skiing instructor and whose father runs his own businesses, they drew up a “kill list” of four other youths they wanted to harm until Brianna had the “misfortune” to be befriended by Jenkinson.

Brianna’s parents told the sentencing hearing the pair should never be released from prison.

Esther Ghey, her mother, said: “I don’t believe that someone who is so disturbed and obsessed with murder and torture would ever be able to be rehabilitated.

Brianna’s father, Peter Spooner, said: “No amount of time spent in prison will be enough for these monsters” as he branded his daughter’s killers “pure evil”.

Intelligent, “high-functioning” and coming from normal backgrounds, the trial heard Jenkinson and Ratcliffe had a fascination for violence, torture and murder and a “thirst for killing”.

They were discussing Brianna’s murder for weeks, detailed in Jenkinson’s handwritten murder plan and phone messages found by detectives.

Jurors were told it was “difficult to fathom” how the two child defendants could carry out such a disturbing crime.

Jenkinson, while aged 14, downloaded a TOR internet browser app, to watch videos of the torture and murder of real people, in “red rooms” on the “dark web”.

She grew an interest in serial killers, making notes on their methods and admitted enjoying “dark fantasies” about killing and torture, the pair living in a secret world of warped interests in murder and cruelty, the trial heard.

Brianna had thousands of followers on TikTok, but in reality was a withdrawn, shy and anxious teenager who struggled with depression and rarely left her home.

Jenkinson told Ratcliffe she wanted to stab Brianna “jus coz its fun lol… I want to see the pure horror on her face and hear her scream”.

She got her wish after luring Brianna to the park on a Saturday afternoon, believing she was going to “hang out” with friends.

Their dark fantasies were about to become reality, the court heard, Jenkinson chillingly telling Brianna when she caught the bus to meet them not to buy a return ticket and reminding Ratcliffe to bring his hunting knife.

Jenkinson had talked about “trophies” taken during killing plans and took a last photo of Brianna on her phone in the park.

At around 3pm, Brianna, who had been seen sitting on a bench, was suddenly attacked, possibly initially from behind, with Ratcliffe’s hunting knife, which had a 13cm blade.

Brianna was “stabbed and stabbed and stabbed” in a “frenzied and ferocious” attack.

She instinctively tried to cover up, tendons in her hands and arms were slashed in a futile attempt to fend off the blows.

She suffered 28 stab wounds, 14 to her head and neck and 14 to her chest, back and sides.

The blade cut her throat, puncturing her heart and lungs and the blows were delivered with enough force to damage the bones of her ribs, vertebrae and sternum.

As she lay dying, Jenkinson deleted a Snapchat conversation between them and began inventing a cover story.

Both blamed the other for the killing but Jenkinson has now given other accounts, saying they both took part in the stabbing.

Afterwards, both teenagers went home and carried on as if nothing had happened. Jenkinson later posted an online tribute with a photo of her victim, saying: “Brianna was one of the best people I have ever met and such an amazing friend it’s so f****** sickening what got done to her.”

An hour later both were under arrest.

Detectives found the murder weapon with Brianna’s blood on the blade in Ratcliffe’s bedroom, along with heavily blood-stained clothing and trainers.

At Jenkinson’s home, they found a handwritten note detailing the murder plan and naming Brianna as the victim.

Messages on their phones detailed their fascination with murder, torture and death, plans to kill other children and an earlier attempt to give Brianna an overdose.

The gruesome murder of the transgender teenager prompted candlelit vigils worldwide protesting against perceived transphobia.

Detectives believe Brianna was killed because she was vulnerable and accessible, done for “enjoyment” and a “thirst for killing”.

Ratcliffe has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and selective mutism.

Jenkinson presents with a severe “conduct dissocial disorder” with “limited pro-social emotions”, psychiatrists said.

The court heard that the medical diagnosis could not excuse their actions and both knew what they did was wrong.

A second “kill list” of staff caring for Jenkinson has been found written by her at the secure accommodation she is currently held at.

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