Judge says transphobia was a motive as she sentences killers of British teenager Brianna Ghey

Police had previously said they did not think the Warrington 16-year-old was killed because she was transgender

The teenage killers of Warrington girl Brianna Ghey committed a “sadistic” murder partly motivated by transphobia, a judge said on Friday, as she sentenced Scarlett Jenkinson and Eddie Ratcliffe to a minimum of 22 and 20 years in prison.

Mrs Justice Amanda Yip warned the pair, who were aged just 15 when they murdered Ghey last February, that they might never be released if they are deemed to still be a danger in future. Jenkinson has indicated a desire to kill again while in custody.

Ghey, a 16-year-old transgender girl, was stabbed 28 times by her killers after they lured her to a park in a leafy village 10km north of Warrington. Jenkinson became fascinated with the idea of killing someone after viewing real-life torture and murder videos on the “dark web”.

They selected Ghey because Jenkinson was “obsessed” with her and because Ratcliffe felt she would be easier to kill than a boy – they had previously discussed killing four others.


The victim and her two assailants all had autism, while Ghey and Jenkinson both had a history of eating disorders and engaging in self harm. The judge, however, concluded that the nature of the killers’ emotional difficulties did not outweigh the brutal and sadistic nature of their crime.

Judge Yip said Jenkinson was the “driving force” of the plot to kill Ghey, who had transitioned a couple of years previously. The victim had anxiety issues and was schooled alone to avoid crowds, but was popular among her peer group and schoolmates online and had a large following on TikTok.

Jenkinson “enjoyed the killing”, said the judge. It satisfied her “deep desire to kill”. She said Ratcliffe, who was allowed to type out his evidence during the trial instead of speaking, did not “show the same interest in killing”.

There was, however, physical evidence that he had stabbed Ghey. Police, who arrested the pair after they were seen on CCTV with Ghey before her death, found her blood on his clothes and shoes. Her DNA was also found on a hunting knife police found in his bedroom. “I am certain that at least some of the wounds were inflicted by you,” the judge said.

In messages to Jenkinson found by police, the judge said Ratcliffe had shown “hostility” towards Ghey’s transgender status, referring to her as “it” and wondering if she would “scream like a man or a girl” when stabbed.

Jenkinson and Ratcliffe, who blamed each other for the stabbing during the trial, showed no emotion as they were sentenced.

“Brianna wasn’t a fighter,” her mother, Esther Ghey, told the court through a statement read by a lawyer. “She must have been terrified.”

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Mark Paul

Mark Paul

Mark Paul is London Correspondent for The Irish Times