Brianna Ghey's murderers Girl X and Boy Y will be named, judge rules

Andrew Fletcher reports from Manchester Crown Court

Two teenagers who killed Brianna Ghey will be named when they are sentenced, a judge has ruled.

Brianna, 16, was stabbed 28 times with a hunting knife in a "sustained and violent" assault inflicted with "considerable force" to her head, chest, back and neck - including one wound directly through her heart.

Legal restrictions had been in place preventing the naming of the pair because of their age and they have been known as Girl X and Boy Y.

But, after the trial judge, Mrs Justice Yip, heard arguments for and against whether the defendants should be named, ruling they can after they were found guilty on Wednesday 20 December.

She said: “There is a strong public interest in the full and unrestricted reporting of what is plainly an exceptional case.”

Both will lose their anonymity when they are sentenced on 2 February.

The two teens, who were 15 at the time, denied her murder and blamed each other - but following a four week trial - a jury at Manchester Crown Court unanimously found them guilty of murder.

Legal commentator Joshua Rozenberg believes the decision to hold off on naming the two teenagers was the right one.

He said: "It helps their parents to make what arrangements they can. It helps the two defendants to get used to the idea."

He also argued that naming them will act as a deterrent to anyone with similar intentions.

He said: "Seeing these people, seeing their names, perhaps their photographs, learning about their background will have a much greater impact on the public than simply referring to them as X and Y."

A court order has been in place since they first appeared in court in February 2023 - after being charged with murder.

The order, made under section 45 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999, means the media cannot publish any details which would lead to the two defendants being identified.

Brianna Ghey Credit: Family handout/Cheshire Police

Following their conviction for Brianna's murder, an application, on behalf of the media made by the PA news agency and ITV, applied to the trial judge for the order to be lifted, so that Girl X and Boy Y can be named in future reports.

Brianna’s family supported the application.

During a hearing on Thursday, 21 December, Mrs Justice Yip said she was in favour of removing the restrictions, but said the order would only be lifted on the day of sentencing.

Lawyers for both defendants, currently held in secure youth accommodation, opposed the media application, citing the possible ramifications on their welfare and consequences for their families, including death threats received by Girl X’s family.

The prosecution took a 'neutral' position, Mrs Justice Yip added.

Mrs Justice Yip said: “The public will naturally wish to know the identities of the young people responsible as they seek to understand how children could do something so dreadful.

“Continuing restrictions inhibits full and informed debate and restricts the full reporting of the case.”

In coming to her decision, the judge also said it was “inevitable” they would be named eventually as the order banning their identification would have lapsed in 2025, when they turned 18.

“Continuing the reporting restrictions until the defendants turn 18 would, in my view, represent a substantial and unreasonable restriction on the freedom of the press,” she ruled.

Speaking outside Manchester Crown Court after the verdicts, Brianna’s mother Esther Ghey said: “To now know how scared my usually fearless child must have been when she was alone in the park with someone that she called her friend will haunt me forever.

“Prior to the trial, I have had moments where I felt sorry for the defendants because they have ruined their own lives as well as ours.

“But now, knowing the true nature of the two and seeing neither display an ounce of remorse for what they have done to Brianna, I have lost any sympathy that I previously had for them, and I am glad that they will spend many years in prison and away from society.”

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But she also urged for empathy on behalf of Girl X and Boy Y's families.

She said: "Please have some empathy and compassion for the families of the young people convicted of this horrific crime.

"They too have lost a child and must live the rest of their lives knowing what their child has done."

Brianna Ghey was attacked in Linear Park in Culcheth in February. Credit: PA

During the trial the court heard both defendants had made multiple attempts to kill Brianna, on one occasion attempting to give her an overdose, before eventually murdering her.

Girl X had an interest in serial killers, making notes on their methods, and admitted enjoying “dark fantasies” about killing and torture.

They drew up a “kill list” of four other youths they intended to harm, until Brianna had the “misfortune” to be befriended by girl X, who became “obsessed” with her.

Girl X 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 then lured Brianna to the park on a Saturday afternoon, making her believe she was going to “hang out” with friends.

But, in accordance with a hand-written note detailing the plan to kill Brianna found on the bedroom floor of Girl X, once a code word was used, she was attacked and murdered.