A UK judge on Friday took the rare step of lifting a ban on identifying two juveniles in court after they were convicted of murdering a 16-year-old transgender girl in a “frenzied and ferocious” knife attack.
Scarlett Jenkinson and Eddie Ratcliffe, both 16, killed Brianna Ghey in Warrington, northwest England, in February last year, in a case that shocked the country because of their young ages.
Their victim was stabbed 28 times in the head, neck, back and chest. Her body was discovered by dog walkers in a park.
Jenkinson and Ratcliffe were just 15 at the time.
Under-18s on trial in the UK are typically granted anonymity, although the media can challenge that restriction in the event of a conviction in the most serious cases.
Judge Amanda Yip agreed to lift the anonymity order at the end of their trial, ruling that their names could be reported at Friday’s sentencing hearing.
A jury of seven men and five women convicted Jenkinson and Ratcliffe after nearly five hours of deliberations, following a four-week trial at Manchester Crown Court.
Addressing the pair before they were returned to prison ahead of sentencing, the judge told them she had to impose life terms for their convictions.
“What I have to decide is the minimum amount of time that you will be required to serve before you might be considered for release,” she said, adding she would consider reports on both before deciding.
During the trial, the court heard how Jenkinson and Ratcliffe had discussed killing Ghey in the days and weeks before she died.
Jurors learned Jenkinson, referred during the trial as girl X, had downloaded an internet browser app that allowed her to watch videos of the torture and murder of real people, in “red rooms” on the “dark web”.
She had developed an interest in serial killers, making notes on their methods, and admitted enjoying “dark fantasies” about killing and torture, the court was told.
The pair later drew up a “kill list” of four other youths they intended to harm, until Ghey had the “misfortune” to be befriended by Jenkinson, who became “obsessed” with her, according to prosecutors.
Ghey had thousands of followers on the social media platform TikTok but in person was a withdrawn, shy and anxious teenager who struggled with depression and rarely left her home, the jury heard.
Deputy chief crown prosecutor Ursula Doyle said after the verdict that the case had been “one of the most distressing” that she had ever dealt with.
“The planning, the violence and the age of the killers is beyond belief,” she noted.
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