Teenagers who murdered Brianna Ghey (16) sentenced to minimum of 22 and 20 years

Scarlett Jenkinson and Eddie Ratcliffe, both 16, took part in ‘sadistic’ killing of transgender schoolgirl in north-west England last year

Two teenagers have been sentenced to life in prison for the killing of Brianna Ghey in an “exceptionally brutal” murder partially motivated by her transgender identity.

Scarlett Jenkinson, a serial killer obsessive described by the judge as the “driving force” behind the pre-meditated killing in north-west England, was sentenced to a minimum of 22 years for what the Crown Prosecution Service said was “one of the most disturbing cases” their lawyers had ever dealt with.

Eddie Ratcliffe, a quiet and studious former champion kickboxer, was given 20 years.

The pair, both 16, were named for the first time before the sentencing after the judge lifted reporting restrictions.


Ghey (16) was stabbed with a hunting knife 28 times after being lured to Linear Park, Culcheth, a village near Warrington, Cheshire, on the afternoon of February 11th, last year.

Sentencing, Mrs Justice Amanda Yip said: “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.”

She said Jenkinson was motivated by a “deep desire to kill”. She said she was particularly concerned to hear that since her conviction, Jenkinson had “expressed the desire to kill again”. She had written a new “kill list” since her detention, which included the names of some of her carers, the court heard.

To both defendants the judge said: “You picked Brianna because you both thought she would be an easy target.” She warned the pair they may never be released if they “remain a danger”.

Though Jenkinson pleaded not guilty to the murder, Manchester crown court heard that since her conviction she had admitted taking part in the stabbing of Ghey an “out and proud” transgender girl with a large TikTok following. Jenkinson had previously blamed Ratcliffe for the murder.

She told a psychiatrist she had stabbed Ghey “repeatedly” and had found it “exciting”, and that she killed her because she thought Ghey would stop being her friend. She murdered Ghey so she would “always be with her”, the court heard.

Jenkinson also admitted to the psychiatrist that she “intended to take parts of Brianna’s body as a token”. She had previously told Ratcliffe she wanted to keep Ghey’s “pretty eyes”.

The court heard that Ghey was stabbed 28 times, but there is no evidence that her killers took any of her body parts.

In addition, Jenkinson admitted she had tried to poison Ghey a few weeks before the murder with red ibuprofen tablets “pretending that they would get her high”.

The court heard Ghey was very ill around that time, and that her mother, Esther Ghey, thought she had appendicitis. She recalled her daughter being very sick and that there were red blobs in her vomit, which she thought at the time were red grape skins.

Jenkinson and Ratcliffe met, aged 11, at Culcheth high school in Warrington and stayed friends after Jenkinson moved to Birchwood high school in autumn 2022, after an incident involving her bringing cannabis edibles into class.

It was at Birchwood that Jenkinson befriended Ghey, who did not attend ordinary lessons because of problems with anxiety and an eating disorder.

Jenkinson, whose mother is a secondary school teacher, told Ratcliffe she had become “obsessed” with Ghey, and she soon put her on a list of children the teenagers wanted to kill. The others were four boys they disliked: one Ratcliffe thought was a “nonce”, another the boy considered a love rival, and two who had been mean to Jenkinson’s boyfriend.

Ghey became their focus after they failed to lure one of the others out via a fake social media profile. She would be “easier” to kill, they agreed, in one of thousands of text messages exchanged in the run-up to the murder on February 11th last year.

The teenagers plotted her murder meticulously at the age of 15, with Jenkinson handwriting a plan for how, where and when they would stab Ghey. They even had a code word – “gay” – to signal the start of the attack.

They carried it out almost to the letter, stabbing Ghey 28 times before they were disturbed by a couple walking their dogs.

Afterwards, they sent each other a series of media reports about the killing, feigning ignorance about the attack.

But the mask soon slipped, with Jenkinson asking Ratcliffe: “Do you have anxiety about getting caught?” He said: “Probably,” to which she replied: “You’re not going to get caught don’t worry. Police are sh*te here.”

Ratcliffe met Ghey for the first time on the day of the murder. While planning the killing, he repeatedly referred to her not as “she”, but “it”, and a “femboy thing” and said he “just wanted to see what size dick it has”.

Judge Yip said his messages were “transphobic” and “dehumanising”.

Giving evidence, Ratcliffe insisted he was not transphobic, and blamed the murder on Jenkinson.

But it was his hunting knife, bought on a ski trip to Bulgaria over the 2022-23 Christmas break, that was used to stab Ghey.

Police found it in his bedroom after his arrest, the day after the killing. Ghey’s DNA and his were detected on the knife. The dead girl’s blood was also discovered on his shoes and coat.

There was no forensic evidence linking Jenkinson to the weapon, and no spots of blood were found on her clothing. In her post-conviction confession, she claimed that was because they had been washed.

In the dock, the teenagers never looked at each other and were separated by security guards and intermediaries employed to ensure they understood the court process. Neither reacted as the sentence was passed, with Jenkinson playing with a green fidget toy.

Both killers had relatively stable home lives. Their parents sat in the courtroom during the trial while Ghey’s mother watched from the public balcony.

The teenagers were “both really intelligent kids”, according to Det Supt Mike Evans, the head of crime for Cheshire police.

They were “quite high-functioning”, said Det Supt Evans. “I think that’s brought a level of arrogance or certainly confidence,” he added, describing them as “two warped individuals”.

An initial psychiatric assessment of Jenkinson suggested she had traits of autism and ADHD, but the psychiatrist changed his diagnosis post conviction, saying she had “a severe form of conduct-dissocial disorder, one of the features of which is having no empathy”.

Judge Yip said this provided “some explanation” for how Jenkinson could commit such a “dreadful murder” but did not lower her culpability.

She told the teenager: “Scarlett, I have concluded that the primary motivation for Brianna’s murder was your deep desire to kill. The messages reveal your fantasies and show your sadistic motives. Brianna’s murder was exceptionally brutal.”

After his arrest, Ratcliffe was disagnosed with autism and the judge accepted that his social skills were “not as developed as most people of your age”. But she said she was confident that he was “capable of saying no to Scarlett. Your autism cannot provide any real excuse for the offence”.

The court heard that after he was charged with Ghey’s murder, Ratcliffe stopped talking. He was diagnosed with “selective mutism”, speaking only to his mother. The trial was delayed for months as his legal team struggled to take instructions from him.

When it eventually began, at the end of last year, he was given special dispensation by the judge to type his evidence, telling the jury that science was his favourite subject at school and he had wanted to study microbiology at university.

Giving evidence, Jenkinson admitted to an obsession with what her barrister called “dark materials” but said it was all fantasy that she had never acted on.

She had downloaded a special browser on her phone to watch “real” murders and torture on the dark web, and kept detailed notes about serial killers including Richard Ramirez, the “Night Stalker”.

Days before the murder, Jenkinson said she was “excited AF [as f*ck]” and that she wanted “to see the pure horror on [Ghey’s face] and hear her scream in pain”.

Nicola Wyn Williams, a senior prosecutor, said: “This sentencing hearing concludes one of the most disturbing cases that the Crown Prosecution Service has had to deal with.

“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.” – Guardian