LONDON (AP) — Two suspects in the murder of a 16-year-old transgender teenager nearly a year ago were sentenced to life in prison Friday with minimum prison terms of 20 and 22 years.
Judge Amanda Yip lifted reporting restrictions on naming 16-year-old Brianna Ghey’s killer. They were identified at Manchester Crown Court as Scarlett Jenkinson and Eddie Ratcliffe.
The grisly murder shocked the country. Ghey was stabbed with a hunting knife 28 times in the head, neck, chest and back in broad daylight after being lured to a park in Warrington on February 11 2023.
Yip handed down mandatory life sentences to Ratcliffe and Jenkinson, and ordered them to serve minimum sentences of 20 and 22 years, respectively, before they are eligible for parole. If they were adults – over the age of 18 – they would face much longer minimum sentences. They will be transferred to an adult prison when they turn 18. Neither showed any real reaction after being sentenced.
“You will only be released if it is determined at a later date that you no longer pose a danger,” the judge said. “You were both involved in a brutal and premeditated murder, which was sadistic in nature, and the secondary motivation was hostility towards Brianna, because of her transgender identity.”
Jenkinson faces a longer minimum sentence in prison because he was clearly the ringleader, according to Yip, and “enjoyed” Ghey’s murder.
“Scarlett, your motivation is to make your fantasies come true,” he said.Brianna Ghey
Family leaflet/Warrington Police
No names were mentioned during the trial, which ended in December. Under British law, young offenders are usually given restrictive protection that prevents them from being named until they are 18 years old. Jenkinson and Ratcliffe were previously known as “Girl X” and “Boy Y”, having been 15 at the time of the murder. .
However, Yip said that after they were found guilty last month, there was “a strong public interest in full and unrestricted coverage of what is clearly an extraordinary case”. Lawyers for both argued that naming them would impact their well-being.
The judge sentenced the couple after hearing victim impact statements from Ghey’s family and experts.
In a statement to the court, Ghey’s father, Peter Spooner, said being the father of a transgender child was “a difficult thing to face”, but he was “proud to have such a beautiful daughter back”.
“We were in a new relationship and these two killers stole that relationship from both of us,” he said. “Justice may have been served based on a guilty verdict, but no amount of time spent in prison will be enough for these monsters.”
Ratcliffe and Jenkinson denied killing Ghey and blamed each other for the fatal stabbing. It is not known who or both held the knife. Neither of them had ever been in trouble with the police before. Both were found guilty by a jury last month after a four-week trial.
The trial revealed that the pair were intelligent and had an interest in violence, torture and serial killings. They had planned the attack for weeks, detailed in handwritten plans and telephone messages found by detectives. They also discussed the murder of another person, which prompted police to rule out transphobia as a motive behind Brianna’s murder early in the investigation.
“The two appeared to have a deadly influence on each other and turned what had started out as just a dark fantasy about murder into a reality,” prosecutor Nicola Wyn Williams said outside the courthouse.
He said he hoped a conviction for the “senseless crime of two killers” would bring closure to the family.
Brianna’s parents said at the sentencing hearing that the couple should not be released from prison.
“I have moments where I feel sorry for them because they have also ruined their own lives, but I have to remember that they had no empathy for Brianna when they left her to bleed to death after their planned and vicious attack, which was carried out not because Brianna made a mistake, but only because one hated trans people and the other thought it was fun,” her mother, Esther Ghey, said in a statement read in court.