The two teenagers found guilty of murdering 16-year-old Brianna Ghey can be named as Scarlett Jenkinson and Eddie Ratcliffe for the first time.
They were just 15 when they lured Brianna to Linear Park in Culcheth, near Warrington, where she was stabbed 28 times in her head, neck and back with a hunting knife on 11 February last year.
The pair, who are now both 16, were known throughout their trial as girl X and boy Y, but a judge lifted the anonymity order at Manchester Crown Court today, where they are being sentenced for Brianna’s murder later.
After victim impact statements were read out this morning, Judge Mrs Justice Yip called a short break after saying you “could feel the emotion in the room”.
Updates as killers sentenced
Brianna’s father, Peter Spooner, spoke to Sky News as the identities of her killers were revealed – calling them a “pair of monsters”. He added: “If I’m honest I hate them. They’re just evil for what they’ve done and I don’t think they’ll ever change. They’ll always be monsters. And that’s what they are to me.”
But Mr Spooner said he had changed his mind on Jenkinson and Ratcliffe being named – and that he now disagreed with the judge’s decision to identify them.
“At first, I thought they should be named. Why should they be protected? People should know who they are. Now, I think their names are always going to be tied to Brianna’s all the time,” he said.
“I think they should just be forgotten about, locked up and not be spoken about again. They’re nothing.”
‘There were no red flags’
Jenkinson, who lived in Culcheth, and Ratcliffe, who lived in Leigh, have been friends since they were 11 and went to Culcheth High School together.
But Jenkinson – whose dad works in the building trade and mum works in a school – was sent to Birchwood Community High School, where Brianna was a student, on a managed transfer after she was caught with cannabis edibles, it is understood.
Their headteacher Emma Mills described her as “quiet, shy and polite” and said “there were no red flags” to indicate she would go on to kill “larger than life” Brianna, from Birchwood, around 10 weeks after she came to the school.
The girls first met in the inclusion room, where Brianna, who was transgender, was taught, and Jenkinson went for a few hours a week because the school couldn’t match her previous timetable.
“We weren’t really aware in terms of a friendship as such but the fact that they knew each other, there must’ve been some sort of friendship there, and it just makes it even more horrific,” said Ms Mills.
“It’s hard to believe that anybody would do this to somebody, never mind a child to another child, and especially somebody that it appears Brianna trusted.”
Few hints of dark side on social media
On her social media profiles, Jenkinson posted filtered selfies and pictures of food and pets – a boxer dog Mac, her black cat, and a guinea pig.
The only hint of her darker side was a photo of a TV screen showing the horror film A Nightmare On Elm Street – in which teenagers are killed by Freddy Krueger – with the caption: “Just been watching Netflix all the way through lockdown I’m starting to run out of things to watch.”
Ratcliffe’s social media profile was similarly innocent, featuring a picture of cookies “that my mum helped me with”.
But their trial heard the teens were obsessed with violence, torture and death, compiled a “kill list” including Brianna and four other children, and exchanged thousands of texts and WhatsApp messages discussing their plans.
Jenkinson watched torture and murder videos on the dark web, called herself a “Satanist” and talked of her fascination with serial killers.
Ms Mills said she was shocked at the ease with which such “dark and sinister” material was obtained and concerned that children can access the dark web.
Jenkinson saved Ratcliffe’s number in her phone under the name “Tesco John Wick” because she saw him as a cut-price version of Keanu Reeves’ hitman character from the film.
Ratcliffe trained in kickboxing
Ratcliffe trained in the combat sport and even competed in the World Kickboxing Championships in Jamaica in 2018.
A school newsletter following his return noted: “Although a physical sport, he doesn’t get hurt as training involves only sparring or ‘light hitting’.
“There were fifty competitors in his age group at the competition in Jamaica, and he deserves huge congratulations for coming second, losing in the final to a German competitor. The world championships are in Cork next year, hopefully he will go one better than this time!”
Ratcliffe – whose mother works in the creative industries – had passed eight GCSEs and wanted to study microbiology at university.
The court heard he had an interest in knives, and he admitted he “admired the craftsmanship” of the weapon used to kill Brianna.
Jenkinson has traits of autism and ADHD, while Ratcliffe has been diagnosed with autism and selective mutism – he gradually stopped talking following his arrest and now only speaks to his mother.
Both claimed in court that their back was turned when the other stabbed Brianna, but the jury found them both guilty of murdering her in what prosecutors described as a “frenzied and ferocious” attack.
At the time of Brianna’s murder, Birchwood was trying to transfer Jenkinson back to her old school because she hadn’t been meeting her attendance targets.
But the return had been delayed because the school had been unable to arrange a meeting with her parents about it.
Ms Mills said she felt a “level of responsibility” after the murder because the girls met at her school but said there were “no signs” that could have stopped it from happening.
But she called for better communication between social care, health and education agencies in the future to help identify any issues.
‘One of Warrington’s darkest days’
Culcheth High School headteacher Chris Hunt said: “We are devastated by these tragic events, which have had a profound impact on our school community.
“Throughout this sad and difficult time, our priority has always been the welfare of our students and staff who have been so badly affected, and ensuring that the right support and care has been in place for all those who need it. This will continue.”
An independent safeguarding practice review to establish “what learning can be identified surrounding the actions of Jenkinson and her role in Brianna’s murder” has been launched, a Warrington Safeguarding Partnership spokesperson said.
Mayor of Warrington Steve Wright said: “What happened will always be regarded as one of Warrington’s darkest days and while today’s sentencing brings about the judicial conclusion of the matter, we know that many people in Warrington continue to grieve and are suffering.”