Student who admitted he murdered grandmother in truth or dare game jailed for life

Court hears how student told friends he had a ‘secret’ that he might have ‘killed someone’

Matt Mathers
Friday 12 November 2021 18:03

A student who admitted in a truth or dare game to killing his grandmother has been jailed for life.

Tiernan Darnton, 21, has been sentenced at Preston Crown Court to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 15 years for the murder of his stepgrandmother Mary Gregory, 94, in a house fire in Heysham, Lancashire.

Ms Gregory was discovered under a table in the conservatory of her smoke-logged bungalow in Heysham in the early hours of 28 May 2018 and died four days later in hospital.

An investigation by Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service initially ruled out any third party involvement, having concluded the most probable cause was a dropped or carelessly discarded cigarette.

A coroner later recorded a verdict of accidental death.

Darnton, 17 time at the time of the murder, was found guilty of her murder yesterday, some three years after an inquest ruled she was the victim of an accidental blaze.

He used a lighter to set fire to a curtain inside the property.

Police reopened the case in May 2019 following comments made by Darnton during a counselling session in which he said he killed Ms Gregory - his stepfather's mother.

He made a similar confession several weeks after Ms Gregory's death during a game of truth or dare with two friends in which he revealed his “darkest secret”.

He told the pair: “I have a secret I haven't told anyone. I may have killed someone.”

Preston Crown Court heard that Darnton started the fire because he did not want Ms Gregory to suffer any longer from dementia.

Darnton was arrested at his family home in Combermere Road, Heysham, in May 2019.

Examination of his mobile phone and laptop found internet searches made after the fire including “I'm a murderer”, “I'm a monster and I'm going to hell”, “I want to cause evil” and “Urge to kill again”.

A month before the fatal blaze - when Darnton was 17 - he also searched “Under 18 murder”.

Giving evidence at his trial, Darnton said the case was “all a big misunderstanding” and his confessions were false.

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