A self-described satanist and a boy she named after a violent hitman both grew up living normal lives but went on to develop a “thirst for killing” and brutally murder their supposed friend.
Scarlett Jenkinson and Eddie Ratcliffe, both now aged 16, have finally been unmasked as the callous youths who stabbed 16-year-old Brianna Ghey to death after a judge ordered the lifting of anonymity orders protecting their identities due to their young ages.
The pair, previously identified only as girl X and boy Y, stabbed the transgender teenager 28 times with a hunting knife after luring her to Linear Park, Culcheth, a village near Warrington, Cheshire, on the afternoon of 11 February.
Jenkinson and Ratcliffe – who each denied murder and attempted to blame the other – were on Friday sentenced to life imprisonment at Manchester Crown Court for the “frenzied and ferocious” killing that was weeks in the planning. Jenkinson must serve a minimum of 22 years and Ratcliffe 20 before parole.
A harrowing four-week trial at the same court heard the “warped” pair, whom Brianna believed to be her friends, had a fascination for violence, torture and murder – and shared a “thirst for killing” that grew in extremity and realness over time.
Intelligent, coming from normal backgrounds and never having been in trouble with police before, the court heard it was “difficult to fathom” how the two child defendants could carry out such a disturbing crime.
The daughter of a school teacher, Jenkinson befriended unsuspecting Brianna after joining her at Birchwood High in November 2022, finding her “different” and “fascinating”.
After striking up a conversation about eyeliner the two became friends, hanging out in the school inclusion unit and outside class using WhatsApp and Instagram.
Jenkinson had been asked to leave Culcheth High School, where her accomplice Ratcliffe was a pupil, with sources saying she had been involved in pupils taking cannabis-laced gummy sweets.
Outwardly described by detectives as appearing to be “a normal kid from a normal family”, Jenkinson had begun fantasising about death and murder from the age of 14, downloading a browser allowing her to search the “dark web” for “red rooms” showing real-life torture and killing videos.
Jenkinson told Ratcliffe she was a “satanist” and kept secret notes on serial killers – such as Richard Ramirez, dubbed the Night Stalker, and cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer – in notebooks in her bedroom at the family home she shared with her parents, both teachers, and three older brothers.
Jenkinson and Ratcliffe drew up a “kill list” of five children they deemed worthy of murder over insignificant or minor dislikes.
Their first intended victim was Brianna, an easy target due to her vulnerability. Brianna had thousands of followers on TikTok, but in reality was a withdrawn, shy and anxious teenager who struggled with depression and rarely left her home.
After Jenkinson initially tried and failed to kill Brianna with an overdose of ibuprofen tablets, the pair discussed Brianna’s murder for weeks, detailed in a handwritten murder plan and phone messages.
Jenkinson told her accomplice she wanted to stab Brianna “jus coz its fun lol … I want to see the pure horror on her face and hear her scream”. She watched her “favourite film”, Sweeney Todd, for the “9,000th time” and discussed which knife her co-defendant would use, the night before Brianna’s murder.
The pair’s dark fantasies were about to become reality, as Jenkinson subsequently lured Brianna, who believed she was going to “hang out” with friends, to the park on a Saturday afternoon.
She reminded Ratcliffe – whose phone number was saved in her phone under the name “Tesco John Wick”, a character from a film about a violent hitman – to bring his knife.
Ratcliffe’s family lived ostensibly normal lives. He grew up the middle child of three, with an older brother and younger sister, in Leigh, Greater Manchester. His father was a manager in industry, his mother was an online fitness and wellbeing coach and latterly a ski instructor.
Ratcliffe took part in one kickboxing competition in Jamaica in 2018, aged 11, and the family enjoyed skiing holidays and weekends boating in the Lake District.
He was a top student, conscientious with his studies. Passing eight GCSEs, taken this summer while in custody. Ratcliffe is now teaching himself A-levels in biology, chemistry, pure maths and English literature. He planned to study microbiology at university.
Jenkinson, who had known Ratcliffe from the age of 11 from school, described him as “trustworthy” and a “sociopath” in her notebook found by police. “Someone that doesn’t have many, or no emotions. Good sense of humour. Very, very smart. Genius level. Not sociable. Socially awkward. Gets anxious.”
Ratcliffe had few friends, only three followers on Instagram, and, though he liked one girl in particular, felt himself “socially inept” so leant on Jenkinson to help him find the words to speak to her. Hours after Brianna’s murder he returned to the subject, asking Jenkinson about sending a message to the girl he liked as Valentine’s Day was approaching.
Ratcliffe was portrayed by his lawyers as being manipulated by his friend and co-defendant. But while Jenkinson was the driving force behind the murder plans, Ratcliffe was a willing participant. The pair had lived in a “cocooned” world of dark fantasies, Ratcliffe indulging Jenkinson’s blood lust and fascination for torture and death. Evidence suggested it was Ratcliffe who wielded the knife, stabbing Brianna in a frenzy, as she tried in vain to fend off the blows.
After murdering Brianna, both teenagers went home and carried on as if nothing had happened. Jenkinson later posted an online tribute with a photo of her victim, saying: “Brianna was one of the best people I have ever met and such an amazing friend. It’s so f***ing sickening what got done to her.”
Jenkinson claimed she burst out crying when she found out Brianna was dead and ran to her mother in tears. Under arrest, she laughed 17 times during her lying account to police detectives.
After his arrest Ratcliffe became gradually more mute, being incapable of speech, except with his mother – raising suspicions among some that it may be a tactic to elicit sympathy. He was allowed to give evidence by typing his answers onto a computer, his words displayed on a screen for the jury and read out by an intermediary. Each day he appeared in court, wearing a shirt and tie, carrying his puzzles magazines, and was given a fidget toy.
Ratcliffe has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and selective mutism, while Jenkinson presents with a severe “conduct dissocial disorder” with “limited pro-social emotions”, psychiatrists said. However, the pair’s sentencing hearing was told the medical diagnosis could not excuse their actions and both knew what they did was wrong.
Ratcliffe’s father attended his trial sporadically, his mother every day, often making notes. Their son made no eye contact with either of them throughout – even as he was taken to the cells after being told he was to be jailed for life. While Jenkinson’s mother dabbed tears from her eyes, Jenkinson made no reaction as she was told she must serve more than two decades behind bars.
Following the sentencing, in a statement released to the Warrington Guardian, the family of Jenkinson said they were “truly sorry”. It read: “We agree with the jury’s verdict, the judge’s sentence and the decision to name the culprits.
“To all of Brianna’s family and friends, our community and everyone else that has been affected by this horror, we are truly sorry.”