'Brutal and sadistic' teenage killers jailed for at least 42 years for murdering transgender schoolgirl Brianna Ghey

2 February 2024, 15:26 | Updated: 2 February 2024, 17:30

Jenkinson and Ratcliffe have been sentenced
Jenkinson and Ratcliffe have been sentenced. Picture: Police

By Will Taylor

Two teenagers who murdered Brianna Ghey in a frenzied stabbing attack have been jailed indefinitely.

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Serial killer-obsessed Scarlett Jenkinson and Eddie Ratcliffe may never be released, a judge warned, and will only be let out if a parole board permits it after they are deemed safe.

Jenkinson was given a minimum term of 22 years, minus time on remand, while Ratcliffe got 20 years minimum minus term on remand at Manchester Crown Court.

Jenkinson did not react as she was sentenced, and neither did Ratcliffe, who looked directly ahead.

The killers, both 15 at the time, had been found guilty of the "disturbing" plan to murder Brianna, 16, in a "frenzied and ferocious" knife attack.

Read more: How Brianna Ghey's teen murderers became obsessed with serial killers and may have targeted another victim

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

Mrs Justice Yip said the murder was "brutal", with some of the blows causing bone damage.

Defensive injuries showed how Brianna tried to defend herself, leaving her wrist "gaping open" and her arm pierced.

Jenkinson had an obsession with serial killers
Jenkinson had an obsession with serial killers. Picture: Police

"Brianna cannot have lost consciousness immediately and she must have been aware she was being attacked," she said.

Jenkinson invented stories, blurring lines between fantasy and reality, and continues to claim Ratcliffe inflicted most of the wounds but enjoyed her part in the murder, the judge said.

Jenkinson has expressed desire to kill again, she said, and if that continues she cannot be released.

"Both of you played a full part in killing Brianna and both intended she should die," the judge told the 16-year-olds.

Read more: How Brianna Ghey's teen murderers became obsessed with serial killers and may have targeted another victim

Messages and notes found in Jenkinson's bedroom showed a "clear plan" to kill Brianna and others, and showed an "insight" into their minds, the judge said.

Jenkinson told Ratcliffe she was a "satanist" who had an obsession with Richard Ramirez, the "Night Stalker", and Jeffrey Dahmer, and she also appeared to idolise the character Sweeney Todd.

She had handwritten notes on the "Killer Clown", John Wayne Gacy, including phrases like "raped victims", "last words - kiss my ass" and "33 victims".

Ratcliffe indulged in fantasies with Jenkinson
Ratcliffe indulged in fantasies with Jenkinson. Picture: Police

"You, Scarlett, introduced the idea of killing people. At first this was fantasy but it developed into something real," the judge said.

"By January 2023 you developed a real desire to kill someone, which you shared with Eddie, asking him to help.

"You had a list of people you wanted to kill, moslty people you did not like."

Jenkinson and Ratcliffe, who were friends from the age of 11, came across Brianna when Jenkinson was transferred to Birchwood High.

Jenkinson was drawn to Brianna, who she liked, and mentioned her to Ratcliffe, telling him Brianna was transgender and she wanted to kill her.

After Jenkinson failed to kill Brianna with an overdose of tablets, she plotted to kill a boy in the woods. But when he failed to respond, they adapted the plan to use against Brianna.

Brianna was killed in a frenzied knife attack
Brianna was killed in a frenzied knife attack. Picture: Handout

Jenkinson wanted to act out her fantasies, the judge said, hoping to make a victim feel real pain and fear.

"You wanted her to die really badly, you wanted to see the pure horror on her face and hear her scream in pain," the judge said.

Ratcliffe did not have the same interest in killing, the judge believed - and tried to encourage her to think about other things.

But he still supported her as her fantasies developed, and was drawn to Jenkinson because she could help him with talking to a girl he liked.

And messages showed he had an interest in the killing plot.

The judge said he was not completely under Jenkinson's "control", though she also said he was not the "driving force".

"There is some evidence you were upset after the killing but you knew that S enjoyed the thought of causing pain and fear. In some messaging, you even encouraged that, such as suggesting she would derive pleasure by watching someone die by hanging," the judge told Ratcliffe.

He used transphobic language, referring to Brianna as "it".

"I want to see if it will scream like a man or a girl," Ratcliffe had said in a message.

Discussing whether transphobia was a motivator in the killing, Mrs Justice Yip said Jenkinson was motivated by her morbid passion.

Ratcliffe's motives were different but knew what she wanted to do and why, and "actively participated" in the murder. He was partly motivated because she was transgender, the judge said.

She said the murder was "sadistic in nature and where a secondary motive was hostility to Brianna because of her transgender identity".

After being detained, Jenkinson was diagnosed with "conduct dissocial disorder", which means she does not empathise.

The judge said Jenkinson has shown no remorse.

Scarlett Jenkinson and Eddie Ratcliffe seen being arrested and interviewed over murder of Brianna Ghey

She even went on to write up a second "kill list" after being held in a secure unit, naming some of those who cared for her.

"If you are ever to be released a huge amount of work will need to be done with you first," the judge warned.

Ratcliffe, meanwhile, is considered non-verbal and was diagnosed with a "mild" form of autism.

Mrs Justice Yip said he had underdeveloped social skills, but said his issues did not significantly lower his culpability.

He has managed to pass GCSEs while in custody.

Ratcliffe showed no remorse at trial but has since displayed some insight into Brianna's family's feelings.

"There is a hope that you may one day be rehabilitated," the judge told him.

Speaking after sentencing, senior Crown prosecutor Nicola Wyn Williams said: "At just 16, Scarlett Jenkinson and Eddie Ratcliffe are convicted killers, responsible for the brutal murder of a vulnerable young girl who thought they were her friends.

"They have been given a life term of imprisonment and have shown no remorse.

"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.

"Today's sentence reflects the brutality of the two killers' heartless crime - and while it cannot erase the pain of Brianna's loss, we hope it brings some closure."

Earlier, Brianna's father Peter Spooner said: "We were forming a new relationship and these two murderers have stolen that from us both.

"I hate how Brianna's life has been brutally taken away from her and she has been deprived of the life she wanted to live.

"She never had the chance to sit her exams or go on to further education.

"Now my world has been torn apart, justice may have been done with the guilty verdicts, but no amount of time spent in prison will be enough for these monsters.

"I cannot call them children as that makes them sound naive or vulnerable, which they are not, they are pure evil. Brianna was the vulnerable one."

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