Brianna Ghey's murderers sentenced to minimum 22 and 20 years in prison

The judge took into account the sadistic nature of the crime and a transphobic motive when she sentenced the two teenagers.

Photo of Brianna Ghey, whose murderers have been sentenced, smiling with trees in the background.
Image: Via X -

Today, February 2, 16-year-olds Scarlett Jenkinson and Eddie Ratcliffe, who previously could not be named because of their age, have been sentenced for murdering trans teen Brianna Ghey. The pair will respectively serve a minimum of 22 and 20 years in prison before parole, with Justice Amanda Yip taking into account the sadistic nature of the crime as well as other aggravating factors such as a transphobic motive in her sentencing.

Brianna Ghey was found dead in Culcheth Linear Park in Cheshire on February 11, 2023, having been stabbed 28 times with a hunting knife. On December 20, 2023, the accused pair had been found guilty of the “disturbing” murder carried out in a “frenzied and ferocious” knife attack.

The murderers were described as intelligent, “high-functioning” and coming from normal backgrounds during the trial. However, the court also heard that they had a fascination with violence, torture and murder. They also had a “kill list” which included four others they were planning to harm.

The court also heard that Jenkinson, just 10 weeks before the murder, had been transferred to Brianna’s school after facing expulsion from Culcheth High School, which she attended with Ratcliffe, for drugging a 13-year-old with a cannabis sweet. Police were called to investigate but the victim’s family decided not to pursue further action.

Initially during the trial, both teenagers denied the murder and blamed each other for carrying out the attack. However, prosecutor Deanna Heer KC told the court that a psychiatrist went to see Jenkinson in the secure unit where she was held and for the first time, the teenager admitted to taking part in the knife attack.

The court also heard that Jenkinson showed “cool and calculated” presence of mind, as she sent a message to the victim’s phone saying “Girl, where are you?” and deleting a previous Snapchat conversation to set up her cover story. Moreover, both teenagers posted online tributes to Brianna after news of the murder broke out.

Jenkinson also admitted to having tried to poison Brianna a few weeks before the murder by giving her spiked tablets “pretending that they would get her high”. Brianna’s mother, Esther Ghey, told the court that her daughter had been very sick, but that she thought it had been appendicitis.

The two murderers had been seen with Brianna by witnesses and also caught on CCTV. They were thus quickly traced and police found the murder weapon in Ratcliffe’s bedroom together with blood-stained clothes. At Jenkinson’s house, they found a note detailing their murder plan.

The prosecution told the jury that there was no need to decide which of the two teenagers had killed Brianna because the murder had been a “joint enterprise”. Deputy chief crown prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service, Ursula Doyle, said: “It was never necessary to prove who inflicted what wound upon Brianna. The case was that they planned it together, they attended the scene together. And effectively, one or both of them carried out the actual act.”

In handing down the decision, Judge Justice Yip said that the terms to which the two murderers of Brianna Ghey have been sentenced are “lengthy for offenders of your age, albeit significantly less than an equivalent sentence for an adult”.

“The parole board will have to decide if and when either of you can be released,” she continued, adding that this will “only happen if you no longer pose a danger.”

The judge explained why the two teenagers have been given different terms, saying that a “huge amount of work” would need to be done before Jenkinson could be released. In Ratcliffe’s case, she mentioned there are “areas in which your functioning is like that of a much younger child”. She took into account his ASD diagnosis, but stated that the impact of this on his culpability is “limited”.

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