The two 16-year-old convicted killers of a transgender teenager in northwest England nearly a year ago have been given minimum sentences of 20 and 22 years
LONDON — The two 16-year-old convicted murderers of a transgender teenager in northwest England nearly a year ago were handed life sentences Friday with minimum prison terms of 20 and 22 years.
Justice Amanda Yip lifted the reporting restrictions on naming the killers of 16-year-old Brianna Ghey. They were identified at Manchester Crown Court as Scarlett Jenkinson and Eddie Ratcliffe.
The horrific murder shocked the nation. Ghey was stabbed with a hunting knife 28 times in her head, neck, chest and back in broad daylight after being lured to a park in the town of Warrington on Feb. 11, 2023.
Yip handed Ratcliffe and Jenkinson a mandatory life sentence, and ordered them to serve a minimum term of 20 and 22 years, respectively, before they could be eligible for parole. If they had been adults — over the age of 18 — they would have faced much longer minimum terms. They will be transferred to adult prisons when they turn 18. Neither showed no visible reaction on being sentenced.
“You will only be released, if in the future, it is decided you no longer present a danger,” the judge said. “You both took part in a brutal and planned murder, which was sadistic in nature, and a secondary motivation was hostility to Brianna, because of her transgender identity.”
Jenkinson faces a longer minimum term in prison as she was clearly the ringleader, according to Yip, and had “enjoyed” killing Ghey.
“Scarlett, your motivation was to act out your fantasies,” she said.
Neither had been named during the trial, which concluded in December. Under English law, young offenders are usually granted the protection of restrictions that prevent them from being named until they turn 18. Jenkinson and Ratcliffe were previously known as “Girl X” and “Boy Y,” having been 15 at the time of the killing.
However, Yip said that after they were found guilty last month, there was a “strong public interest in the full and unrestricted reporting of what is plainly an exceptional case.” Lawyers for the two argued that naming them would have ramifications for their welfare.
The judge sentenced the pair 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 had been “a difficult thing to deal with,” but that he had been “proud to gain another beautiful daughter.”
“We were forming a new relationship and these two murderers have stolen that from us both,” he said. “Justice may have been done with the guilty verdicts, but no amount of time spent in prison will be enough for these monsters.”
Ratcliffe and Jenkinson had denied killing Ghey and blamed each other for the fatal stabbing. It’s not known which one or if both wielded the knife. Neither had been in trouble with police before. The two were found guilty by a jury last month following a four-week trial.
The trial heard that the pair were intelligent and had a fascination with violence, torture and serial killers. They had planned the attack for weeks, detailed in a handwritten plan and phone messages found by detectives. They also had discussed killing others, which had prompted police to rule out transphobia as a motive behind Brianna’s murder early on in the investigation.
“The two appear to have had a deadly influence on each other and turned what may have started out as dark fantasies about murder into a reality,” Crown prosecutor Nicola Wyn Williams said outside the courthouse.
She said she hoped the sentencing for the “two killers’ heartless crime” would bring some closure for the family.
Brianna’s parents told the sentencing hearing the pair should never 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 felt no empathy for Brianna when they left her bleeding to death after their premeditated and vicious attack, which was carried out not because Brianna had done anything wrong, but just because one hated trans people and the other thought it would be fun,” her mother Esther Ghey said in a statement that was read to the court.