A kill list and torture obsessions among horrifying details behind murder of Brianna Ghey

As two teenagers are found guilty of murdering Brianna Ghey, here’s a look at the horrifying events which led up to her death.

Brianna Ghey, 16, was stabbed 28 times with a hunting knife in her head, chest, back and neck while in Culcheth Linear Park, in Warrington, on 11 February 2023.

A girl and a boy, both aged 15 at the time, were arrested for her murder just a day later - both denied carrying out the attack, and blamed each other for the killing.

But, a jury unanimously convicted the pair - who have only been identified as Girl X and Boy Y and are now both 16 - of murder after Manchester Crown Court heard the horrifying timeline of events leading up to her death.

What was the jury told?

  • X and Y were fascinated with Brianna

Deanna Heer KC, prosecuting, told the court Girl X was intrigued by Brianna months before her death.

Text messages between her and Y on 15 December 2022 said she was "obsessed over someone" called Brianna, adding: "But I don’t have feelings for them."

After discussing the fact that Brianna was transgender, Boy Y refused to acknowledge Brianna as a female, referring to her as "it" throughout the messages.

After messaging back and forth for some time, the pair agreed X did not love Brianna but was instead "fascinated" by her.

  • X and Y had a fixation with torture, violence and death

Deanna Heer KC, prosecuting, said messages recovered from the phones of Girl X and Boy Y showed a "preoccupation" with "violence, torture and death" and recorded them discussing how they wanted to kill people they knew.

She said: "If that was not an unusual way for two teenagers to speak to one another, the messages demonstrate also how, over time, they encouraged one another to think about how they would actually carry out a killing, and the messages show how they planned together to kill Brianna in just the way that she was in fact killed."

In early December, Girl X sent Boy Y a video which was apparently an advert for an underground site for people who like rape, snuff, torture and murder.

Girl X told Boy Y: "I love watching torture vids. Real ones on the dark web."

On 1 January, Boy Y sent Girl X a photo of a hunting knife and told her: "Spent my money. I bought a knife."

Girl X also claimed to have killed two people in messages to Boy Y, but, Ms Heer said, there was no evidence she had.

The day before killing Brianna, on 10 February, Girl X asked Boy Y which knife he would bring.

He said: "The hunting knife I showed you in person as well as on the phone."

The girl asked if it would "definitely 100% kill her" and boy Y replied: "Yes."

She told him: "I’ve just put my favourite film on. I’m watching it for like the 9,000th time."

In the messages read to the court, Girl X said the film was Sweeney Todd and told Boy Y he should watch it.

She added: "He kills people with one of the sharpest blades in the world."

  • X had an interest in serial killers

During a search of Girl X’s room, notes about serial killers including Jeffrey Dahmer, Richard Ramirez and Harold Shipman were found.

In a conversation in January about killing others, Girl X told Boy Y she wanted him to help her kill Boy R. She said she really hated him and he would be an easy kill. 

Later, the same day she used Google to search for "Serial Killer Facts" and told Y she was "Tryna plan the killings". "For now I’m gonna focus on R," she added.

The jury also heard about messages between the defendants, exchanged on 23 January, three weeks before Brianna’s death, when Girl X’s "fascination" with Brianna "turned darker".

Girl X tells Boy Y she knows a lot about US serial killer Richard Ramirez - known as The Night Stalker - adding: "I could talk about him for like two hours, including quotes and dates of stuff."

During the conversation, she adds: "I always fake apologies and play the victim."

  • The pair had a "kill list" of other child victims

In November 2022, the pair discussed killing a child referred to as Boy M. By 26 January 2023, Girl X and Boy Y had compiled a list of four people they wanted to kill, including Brianna.

The court heard Girl X created a fake Instagram account to contact one of their targets, referred to as Boy E, but it was blocked.

In a message read to the court, Girl X told Boy Y: "If we can’t get Boy E tomorrow we can kill Brianna."

Boy Y replied saying: "Yeah, it’ll be easier and I want to see if it will scream like a man or a girl."

  • X and Y made multiple attempts to kill Brianna

On 23 January 2023, Girl X messaged Boy Y with suggestions of trying to kill Brianna with an overdose.

X says that "ppl already know she is depressed… so nobody would get sus … I gave her some today that should have been enough to kill her… but she didn’t die".

The two then discuss giving Brianna ibuprofen gel in a McDonald’s milkshake and Boy Y says the pills Girl X gave Brianna "might be slowly killing her".

Brianna’s mother Esther Ghey recalled an incident when Brianna was "really sick".

She said: "She appeared to be in real pain and was screaming and crying for me to help her. 

"She’s never been like that before and never since. This was not long before she was killed."

Her statement said she believed the date of the incident was sometime in the week commencing 23 January.

Ms Ghey said she ran upstairs after hearing her daughter scream to find her "rolling around in agony, screaming in pain" saying: "I think I’m going to die."

"She was clearly in distress. I wondered if it could be appendicitis. Brianna kept saying, 'Don’t leave me! Don’t leave me!'"

Her mother went to get her phone but heard a "loud splash", and went back to Brianna’s room.

"Brianna was hanging off the side of the bed and had been sick all over the bedroom floor," the statement continued.

Ms Ghey said she then cleared up the mess and considered calling an ambulance, but Brianna's pain began to subside.

"I thought it was some sort of sickness bug. She continued to improve through the evening."

Police at the scene in Culcheth Linear Park in Warrington, Cheshire, following the death of Brianna. Credit: PA

Boy Y and Girl X then made a plan to kill Brianna on 28 January, asking the teen to meet them as they were going to "get high on cocaine" at Culcheth Linear Park.

Girl X messaged Boy Y and said: "I want to stab her at least once even if she’s dead jus coz its fun lol."

Ms Heer said Girl X and Boy Y did meet each other in Culcheth on 28 January, but Girl X told him Brianna messaged to say she couldn't come just an hour before the arranged meet.

The defendants continued to discuss killing Brianna on Monday 30 January. X suggested she could kill Brianna by giving her an overdose of cocaine but then said: "…let’s just stab her. It’s more fun". Y replied: "Ok."

  • A "murder plan" to kill Brianna was found in X's bedroom

Girl X sent Boy Y a picture of a handwritten note headed: "Saturday 11 February 2023. Victim: Brianna Ghey."

The paper was found in Girl X’s bedroom after her arrest, and said: "Meet Boy Y at wooden posts 1pm. Walk down to library … bus stop.

"Wait until Brianna gets off bus then the three of us walk to linear park. Go to the pipe/tunnel area."

It continued: "I say code word to Boy Y. He stabs her in the back as I stab her in the stomach. Boy Y drags the body into the area. We both cover up the area with logs etc."

Alongside that note, another plan to kill was also found which said: "Give them alcohol with sleeping pills, slit throat, dismember body, place pieces in bin bags."

The murder of Brianna

On 10 February, Girl X arranged to meet Brianna and later told Boy Y she was "excited as f***" for 11 February after they discussed which knife he would bring, the court heard.

The next day, Girl X and Boy Y met shortly before 1pm.

Brianna left her house and boarded a bus to Culcheth, sending her mother a text message at 1:41pm which said: "I'm on the bus by myself, I'm scared."

The three met just before 2pm and walked to the park.

Deanna Heer KC said there were some Snapchat messages between Brianna and Girl X while they were in the park.

At 3:06pm a message from Brianna's phone was sent to Girl X, saying: "Girl where are you?"

It was around this time Brianna was killed.

The day after Brianna’s death, Girl X posted a social media tribute, calling her death "sickening" and dubbing her an "amazing friend". Credit: Cheshire Police
  • She posted a tribute to her alleged victim on social media after the killing

The day after Brianna’s death, Girl X posted a social media tribute, calling her death "sickening" and dubbing her an "amazing friend".

In the tribute on Snapchat, she said: "Brianna was one of the best people I have ever met and such an amazing friend it's so f****** sickening what got done to her."

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