Brianna Ghey’s murderers have been sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of the transgender teenager in February last year. Aggravating factors have increased the minimum sentences to 20 and 22 years for ‘Boy Y’ and ‘Girl X’ respectively.
In England and Wales, a conviction of murder carries a mandatory life sentence. However, today the judge determined the minimum custodial term to be served before the teenagers could be considered for parole.
If released, the pair will remain on license for the rest of their lives and may be recalled to prison if considered a risk to the public.
Mrs Justice Yip handed down two sentences both with higher minimums for the youths sentencing Boy Y and Girl X to 20 and 22 years respectively. The decision was made on the basis that Brianna Ghey’s murderers engaged in sadistic conduct, held hostility towards Brianna for her transgender identity, the significant level of premeditation, the brutality of the killing and Brianna’s vulnerability.
Brianna Ghey’s murderers, now able to be named as Eddie Ratcliffe and Scarlett Jenkinson, were found guilty of murder in December last year. The pair were found to have stabbed Brianna Ghey to death in a park in Culcheth in what was described by the pathologist as a “sustained and violent” attack.
In the weeks preceding the murder of Brianna Ghey, the teenagers exchanged text messages in which they referred to Brianna in transphobic and transmisogynistic terms. Messages from Jenkinson sent to Ratcliffe make jokes that Brianna “has a dick lol”, with Ratcliffe replying to ask whether Brianna was a “tr*nny or a femboy” [censored by us]. Ratcliffe later referred to Brianna as Jenkinson’s “femboy thing”.
In messages planning the murder, Ratcliffe told Jenkinson that he wanted to see whether Brianna would “scream like a man or a girl” and to see “what size dick it had”. Throughout the messages, Ratcliffe continually referred to Brianna as “it”.
During the trial the jury heard that Brianna was bullied because she was transgender. The court heard that Brianna suffered from anxiety, self-harmed, was depressed sometimes, and was very nervous about going out. In her testimony, Jenkinson agreed that Brianna was quite vulnerable and said she would possibly be an easy person to kill.
The prosecution began by telling the court that Jenkinson’s account of events had changed since her conviction. During the trial Jenkinson maintained that her co-defendant, Ratcliffe, had inflicted all of Brianna’s stab wounds.
However following her conviction for murder Jenkinson has admitted to professionals that she had inflicted multiple stab wounds against Brianna, and that she enjoyed doing so.
Jenkinson has also given comment on her and Ratcliffe’s motivations for the murder. She claims Ratcliffe participated due to transphobia whereas she participated due to a fear of Brianna Ghey leaving her.
Her lawyers have today informed the court that Jenkinson has since reverted back to the original testimony she gave in court last year. Now claiming that she lied to professionals an in fact, did not inflict any of Brianna’s wounds.
Several impact statements were then read to the court. A statement from Brianna Ghey’s mother, Esther Ghey, described Brianna as an “extremely vulnerable teenager”. Esther told the court that they thought Scarlett was Brianna’s friend and they trusted her.
Esther concluded her statement speaking on the impact of Brianna’s murder describing how she felt a part of her had also died.
The prosecution noted two key potential aggravating factors which might require a higher minimum sentence to be imposed. These are hostility related to Brianna Ghey’s transgender identity and that the murder involved sadistic conduct.
The prosecution stated that there is evidence in this case that the offence was motivated, at least in part, by Brianna Ghey’s transgender identity. The prosecution suggested that Ratcliffe was motivated to kill Brianna because of his transphobic attitudes. Additionally, the prosecution suggested Jenkinson knew about Ratcliffe’s transphobic attitudes and this may have been why she believed he would participate in the murder.
The prosecution also highlighted the vulnerability of Brianna and the violence of the attack. During the trial, the pathologist told the court that some of Brianna’s 28 wounds would have taken some “considerable force” to inflict.
In mitigation, the defence, on behalf of Jenkinson, argued she was not motivated by transphobia and that there was insufficient evidence to support Jenkinson held transphobic views or had Ratcliffe’s transphobia in mind.
The defense also argued that Jenkinson’s recent diagnosis of a severe personality disorder might lessen her culpability in the murder.
On behalf of Ratcliffe the defence argued that Ratcliffe’s repeated transphobic comments about Brianna Ghey were “immature and juvenile”, but that her transgender identity was “immaterial” to the murder. The defence argued that Ratcliffe would have aided Jenkinson in murdering anyone, regardless of victim’s gender.
Ratcliffe has received a diagnosis for autism which the defence had argued might lessen his culpability.
In her sentencing remarks, Mrs Justice Yip reflected on Brianna’s vulnerability, her importance to her family, and that her murder was a “brutal” one.
Mrs Justice Yip said she could not base her sentence on the new information given by Jenkinson since conviction, as nothing she said could be believed. Rather she would only base her sentence on the evidence at trial, and that both played a full part in the killing of Brianna.
Mrs Justice Yip told the court that Jenkinson’s motivation in killing Brianna was to enact her fantasies. Ratcliffe gave support and encouragement to Jenkinson, but was not the “driving force”.
Mrs Justice Yip noted that there was insufficient evidence to suggest Ratcliffe was motivated by sadistic desires. However, Mrs Justice Yip told the court that Ratcliffe’s messages about Brianna were “transphobic”, and that “he consistently referred to [Brianna] in a way that was dehumanising.”
Mrs Justice Yip held that Jenkinson was an unreliable witness, so did not rely on her testimony that Ratcliffe was transphobic. Rather, on the basis of the evidence, she held that Ratcliffe “undoubtedly displayed hostility towards [Brianna] based on her transgender identity”.
Mrs Justice Yip told the court that the murder was a sadistic one, and that it was motivated, in part, by hostility towards Brianna on the basis of her transgender identity.