Two torture-obsessed teenagers who lured transgender schoolgirl Brianna Ghey into a deadly ambush before stabbing her to death during a ‘frenzied’ and ‘savage’ attack were today found guilty of murder. 

Brianna was just 16 when she was stabbed 28 times with a hunting knife at Culcheth Linear Park near Warrington, Cheshire, on February 11, in a barbaric onslaught that appalled Britain. 

Her killers, two teens identified as Girl X and Boy Y, were both 15 when the schoolgirl was slaughtered and had plotted to use the 13cm blade to slit her throat before dismembering her body. 

Now aged 16, the pair were spotted fleeing the scene before being arrested by cops barely 24 hours after hacking Brianna to death – with officers later discovering a chilling handwritten note detailing how they were going to murder her, headed: ‘Saturday 11th February 2023. Victim: Brianna Ghey’.

Along with the plan to kill the 16-year-old, another note found in Girl X’s bedroom read: ‘Give them alcohol with sleeping pills, slit throat, dismember body, place pieces in bin bags.’

During their murder trial, both of the teenagers attempted to wash their hands of the slaying, blaming each other for Brianna’s killing, with each telling the court their backs were turned when the other defendant began plunging the knife into her. 

But a jury at Manchester Crown Court saw through the teenagers’ lies and, following a trial of more than three weeks, finally convicted the pair – who cannot be named for legal reasons – for Brianna’s murder. 

Brianna Grey was stabbed 28 times with a hunting knife on February 11, a court has been told

Following today's guilty verdicts, the Crown Prosecution Service released an image of the knife

Following today’s guilty verdicts, the Crown Prosecution Service released an image of the knife 

Brianna on her final bus journey to Culcheth before she was found stabbed to death in Linear Park

Brianna on her final bus journey to Culcheth before she was found stabbed to death in Linear Park

Using their first names, Mrs Justice Yip told Girl X and Boy Y: ‘I’m sure you probably already know that I have to impose a life sentence.

‘What I will have to decide is the minimum amount of time you will be required to serve before you can be considered for release.

‘I am going to see what other steps need to be taken before I sentence.’

The defendants were both taken back down to the cells before court then adjourned for a short break.

The trial heard how Brianna was found by dog walkers in Linear Park shortly after  3pm on Saturday, February 11. Her bloodied body was discovered face down in mud, having been stabbed to the head, neck, back and chest.

Follow every detail of the case on The Mail’s acclaimed podcast The Trial 

The Trial…takes listeners behind the headlines and into the courtrooms of some of the biggest trials in the world.

The first series ‘The Trial of Lucy Letby’ was a global hit, with more than 13 million downloads, while season two focused on the murder of Ashling Murphy, a 23-year-old teacher from Ireland.

Its third season follows the tragic case of Brianna Ghey, a 16-year-old transgender girl killed in Warrington, England.

Follow the evidence as the jury hears it, in twice-weekly reports from The Daily Mail’s Northern Correspondent Liz Hull and broadcast journalist Caroline Cheetham.

Her jugular vein had also been severed, causing ‘catastrophic blood loss’, while another knife blow penetrated Brianna’s heart. The teen was pronounced dead at the scene at 4.02pm.

Prior to the slaying, the court heard the pair plotted to kill Brianna, meeting the teenager at a bus stop before then going on to murder her. 

Prosecutors argued the pair were ‘in it together’ from start to finish, right from planning the attack to attempting to cover their tracks afterwards.

Deanna Heer KC told jurors that in law it therefore did not matter which of the duo inflicted the fatal wounds.

But she said they may conclude it was more likely that Boy X was responsible for many or all of the blows.

Girl X may have knifed Brianna – who she claims was her friend – in the stomach as she lay dying, Mrs Heer said, just as she had previously messaged Boy Y she planned to do.

Mrs Heer said jurors ‘may find it hard to fathom how two children could behave in the way that they did’.

But she said no matter the ‘temptation’ to try to understand ‘why they did what they did’, they must remember that the prosecution only needed to prove they committed the crime, not the motivation.

She added messages swapped by Girl X and Boy Y before and after Brianna’s killing showed they had played equal parts in encouraging one another, in ‘concocting’ the murder plan, and in trying to ‘cover up their guilt’ afterwards.

They had also ‘both played a part’ in carrying out the murderous plan, a handwritten note of which was found in searches of Girl X’s bedroom.

‘In other words, the prosecution say that the evidence demonstrates that from first until last, these two defendants were in it together.’

Jurors heard ‘articulate’ Girl X enjoyed watching internet torture and killing material from the ‘dark web’ and had an interest in serial killers.

And the jury was shown an alleged ‘murder plan’ on how to kill Brianna along with phone messages they exchanged, including a ‘kill list’ of other children they planned to harm.

Girl X has said she enjoyed ‘dark fantasies’ but with no intention to ever turn them into reality, while Boy Y claimed he went along with them and did not take them seriously; both say they never expected the other to act on them.

Ms Heer continued: ‘Both knew what they were going to do, not in fantasy, but in real life.’

She suggested Boy Y inflicted ‘at least some of the wounds’ using his hunting knife, found in his bedroom with Brianna’s blood on the handle and blood on his clothing showing he was in ‘close proximity’ to the stabbing.

Girl X also said she wanted to stab Brianna in messages, ‘jus coz its fun lol’ and had lured Brianna to the park and encouraged Y to bring his knife.

The note - headed ‘Saturday 11th February 2023. Victim: Brianna Ghey’ - was found alongside jottings about serial killers including Jeffrey Dahmer, Richard Ramirez and Harold Shipman

The note – headed ‘Saturday 11th February 2023. Victim: Brianna Ghey’ – was found alongside jottings about serial killers including Jeffrey Dahmer, Richard Ramirez and Harold Shipman

Brianna Ghey's mother Esther arrives at Manchester Crown Court last month for the start of proceedings

Brianna Ghey’s mother Esther arrives at Manchester Crown Court last month for the start of proceedings

Brianna Ghey's father Peter Spooner arriving at Manchester Crown Court

Brianna Ghey’s father Peter Spooner arriving at Manchester Crown Court 

But Richard Pratt KC, representing Girl X, said it was Boy Y who had been a kickboxer and knew how to deliver a punch and he suggested a ‘thrust’ with a knife.

‘And that’s another thing about Y,’ Mr Pratt continued: ‘He likes knives.’

In a chilling exchange a day before the murder, the court heard how the murderous teens had been discussing how they would take Brianna’s life. 

Showing little regard for their victim, Girl X asked Boy Y which knife he would bring when they ambushed Brianna.

‘The hunting knife I showed you in person as well as on the phone,’ replied the boy. 

In a ruthless follow up question, the girl then asked her accomplice if that would ‘definitely 100 per cent kill her’ and Boy Y replied: ‘Yes.’

During the horrifying chat, Manchester Crown Court heard how Girl X was watching her ‘fave film’, Sweeney Todd, for the ‘the 9,000th time’ and demanded Boy Y he should watch it.

‘He kills people with one of the sharpest blades in the world,’ she added.

Jurors heard how girl X was obsessed with murderers, telling Boy Y in an earlier series of messages she knew a lot about US serial killer Richard Ramirez, aka The Night Stalker, who slaughtered at least 13 people in 1985.

On January 23, she wrote: ‘I could talk about him for like two hours, including quotes and dates of stuff’.

The court heard the two teenagers had intended to meet Brianna on January 28 but were forced to change their plans ‘last minute’ when she was unable to come.

Later girl X told boy Y in a message Brianna would be able to meet them on Tuesday, after school.

‘I’ve got revision and I’m not bringing a knife,’ replied the schoolboy. 

Police forensics officers walk into the park in Warrington to investigate in February 2022

Police forensics officers walk into the park in Warrington to investigate in February 2022

Brianna, 16, was found with fatal wounds on a path in the park near her home. She had messaged her mother on the way to the park to say she was 'scared'

Brianna, 16, was found with fatal wounds on a path in the park near her home. She had messaged her mother on the way to the park to say she was ‘scared’

Later that day, girl X messaged her co-accused and declared: ‘Let’s kill Brianna tomorrow 6pm.’

Boy Y told her he was unable to carry out the killing on a ‘school night’, the court heard.

But unperturbed, Girl X wrote: ‘I don’t want to wait, I just want her to die. I want to see pure horror on her face and hear her scream in pain.’

Boy Y – who has autism and was allowed to type his testimony to police – replied: ‘Really? All I wanted to see is what size d*** it had.’

Girl X said: ‘I really want one of its eyes. They have pretty eyes.’

The handwritten message detailing how Brianna would be killed was unearthed by police after the girl was arrested by police. 

It read: ‘Meet Boy Y at wooden posts 1pm. Walk down to library…bus stop. Wait until Brianna gets off bus then the 3 of us walk to linear park. Go to the pipe/tunnel area.

‘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.’

Prosecutor Deanna Heer KC told the court: ‘It is clearly, the prosecution say, a plan to kill Brianna Ghey.’

Police also found notes about serial killers including Jeffrey Dahmer, Richard Ramirez and Harold Shipman in Girl X’s bedroom, the court was told. 

A terrifying series of messages between the pair revealed how the Girl X admitted to watching torture porn and had a 'really sharp blade'

A terrifying series of messages between the pair revealed how the Girl X admitted to watching torture porn and had a ‘really sharp blade’ 

Prosecutors claim the pair had exchanged text messages before the attack that showed how they ‘encouraged one another and egged each other on’ before the brutal attack.

Girl X had sent a message to her co-defendant to say she was ‘excited AF (as f***) for tomorrow’.

She  sent the note to her co-defendant on February 3 after the pair drew up a list of five people they wanted to kill. 

At 3.13pm, dog walker Kathryn Vize called 999 to say she had found a badly injured female at Culcheth Linear Park and had seen her attackers running away.

In a clip of the frenzied emergency call, played in court, Ms Vize said:  ‘She’s very hurt. They probably need the air ambulance because of where she is. She’s halfway down some stairs, she’s bleeding heavily.’

She continued: ‘She’s bleeding, she’s got blood on her legs, she’s got blood on her back. She’s really hurt.

‘We thought it was a dummy at first. I don’t want to touch her either. I don’t know if she’s alive.’

She added Brianna was covered in so much blood she was afraid to ‘do anything to her’, adding: ‘I don’t think there’s anything you can do for her, I really don’t think there is.

‘It’s just so horrible, it’s awful. Please hurry.’

A handout photograph of 16-year-old Brianna Ghey, who died after being stabbed 28 times in February

A handout photograph of 16-year-old Brianna Ghey, who died after being stabbed 28 times in February

An air ambulance was scrambled to the former railway cutting but Brianna had been stabbed 28 times to the head, neck, back and chest, with her jugular vein severed, causing ‘catastrophic blood loss’, Ms Heer said.

Another knife blow penetrated Brianna’s heart, she added, and she was pronounced dead at the scene at 4.02pm.

During the trial, Boy Y appeared to hold a tissue to his face in the dock as Ms Heer detailed the separate knife wounds which killed Brianna.

She said the stab wounds were ‘consistent’ with being inflicted with his 13cm (5.1in) hunting knife.

It was found in his wardrobe of his bedroom following his arrest with traces of Brianna’s blood still on it, jurors heard.

Brianna’s mobile phone was also found to be covered in her blood.

The trial was told there was ‘no dispute’ that Girl X and Boy Y were seen running away, or that they had discussed killing Brianna.

Both denied the killing and blamed one another for it. However, Ms Heer said the prosecution case was that ‘whoever delivered the fatal blows, both defendants are equally guilty’.

‘Acting together, they planned and executed their plan to kill her,’ she added.

Ms Heer told the jury: ‘Undoubtedly, Brianna was the victim of a brutal, unlawful, deliberate attack. That is not in dispute. The issue in this case is not whether Brianna Ghey was murdered but whether the defendants participated in that murder.

‘They both accept they were in the park and Boy Y accepts he took his hunting knife with him. But they both deny participating in her killing in any way and each blames the other. Plainly they cannot both be telling the truth.’

Ms Heer said the prosecution did not have to prove who actually wielded the knife and killed Brianna.

‘Provided you are sure that they intentionally participated in the killing in some way they are both guilty,’ she added.

‘In this case, the evidence clearly demonstrates that the defendants acted together to bring about Brianna’s death and that they intended to kill her.

‘The messages they exchanged show how they encouraged one another and egged each other on, how they thought about and discussed how to kill.

‘They had no choice but to turn on each other and blame each other.’

After her arrest the day after Brianna was killed, Girl X told police her ‘friend’ had gone off to meet ‘this lad’ from Manchester and was alive and well when she last saw her.

But in court, she changed her story and said after leading Brianna to Culcheth Linear Park she went to ‘stretch her legs’, only to hear ‘screaming’, and turned round to see Boy Y stabbing her.

Explaining why she had initially given a false account, she said she knew the messages she and Boy Y exchanged before and after the killing would ‘look bad’.

Her defence revolved around painting Boy Y as having inflicted all the wounds.

They maintained the bloodthirsty messages she sent him and meticulous planning ahead of the attack had been pure ‘fantasy’ – with Boy Y tragically failing to appreciate the distinction.

For his part, Boy Y told police from the outset that he had been urinating behind a tree and turned around to see Girl X stabbing Brianna.

He stuck to his account while giving evidence in court – typing his answers due to what jurors have been told is a diagnosis of ‘selective mutism’ following his arrest.

Boy Y suffered from ‘selective mutism’  

Selective mutism is an anxiety disorder where a person is unable to speak in certain social situations.

It usually starts in childhood, manifesting itself in a ‘freeze response’ with classmates at school or relatives they do not see very often.

If left untreated, the condition can persist into adulthood, according to the NHS.

Selective mutism affects about 1 in 140 young children and is more common in girls and children who have recently migrated from abroad.

Rather than refusing or choosing not to speak at certain times, someone with selective mutism is literally unable to speak.

In time, the person may learn to anticipate the situations that provoke the reaction and do all they can to avoid them.

People with selective mutism are able to speak freely to certain people, such as close family and friends, who don’t trigger the freeze response.

Telling the jury about Boy Y’s diagnosis on Tuesday, junior defence counsel Stephen Swift said: ‘Although he has good overall understanding of language, following his remand he gradually stopped speaking to anyone except his mother.’

Mr Swift said that although the condition was described as ‘selective’, in reality ‘[Boy Y’s] silence is not a matter of choice’.

But having denied to detectives that he brought the alleged murder weapon – a 5in hunting knife bought for him by his parents on a skiing holiday weeks earlier – to Culcheth that day, he changed his account.

However, he insisted he had handed it to Girl X before meeting Brianna, only taking it back after they fled following the stabbing.  

In the days before Brianna was stabbed, Ms Heer said the pair exchanged a string of messages referring to the schoolgirl as ‘it’ – with Girl X saying she was ‘obsessed’ with her.

When their first intended target blocked Instagram messages from Girl X, the pair are said to have turned their attention to Brianna.

Boy Y sent a message to Girl X saying ‘yeah, it’ll be easier and I want to see if it will scream like a man or a girl’.

In his police interview, Boy Y was asked why in messages he had referred to Brianna as ‘it’.

He said that he would make jokes about ‘gayness’ with his friends but he didn’t actually care if anyone was gay or not.

Their first plan was to lure Brianna to the park on January 28 – also a Saturday – on the pretext of using cocaine together, with Girl X writing: ‘Let’s stab her. Back and throat.’

However in the event, Brianna messaged to say she couldn’t come after all, with Girl X writing to Boy Y to say she was ‘f****** p****d’.

In a later message, she suggested she could kill Brianna by giving her an overdose of cocaine, but then told Boy X ‘let’s just stab her. It’s more fun.’

The pair then allegedly put in place their plan to persuade Brianna to meet them in the park on February 11.

After making new arrangements to meet Brianna on February 11 – on the false pretext of taking cocaine together – jurors were told that Girl X asked Boy Y about the knife he was bringing, questioning whether it would ‘definitely 100% kill her?’

He assured her that it would, replying: ‘Yes, it cuts my skin easily.’

Brianna – who was ‘anxious’ and rarely went out alone, according to her mother – left her home in Birchwood, near Warrington, Cheshire, at 12.45pm on February 11 and boarded a bus to Culcheth, buying a single child ticket.

Police at Culcheth Linear Park in Warrington, Cheshire, after Brianna was found dying

Police at Culcheth Linear Park in Warrington, Cheshire, after Brianna was found dying

She was wearing a short grey tartan skirt, long white socks and a fluffy white hooded jacket, and carrying a pink and white checked shoulder bag. She wore her hair long and was wearing glasses.

‘No doubt because of her distinctive appearance, people who saw her that day remembered her,’ Ms Heer said.

On the journey at about 1.41pm, Brianna sent her mother Esther a message reading: ‘I’m on the bus by myself, I’m scared.’

Her mother replied that it was ‘good’, jurors heard.

Boy Y – wearing a dark jacket with the hood up – had meanwhile been dropped off by his mother opposite a Sainsbury’s supermarket and met up with Girl X.

CCTV showed Boy Y buying a bottle of Coca-Cola while Girl X bought a bottle of Dr Pepper, it was said.

Girl X had set up a fake Snapchat account of a fictional drug dealer, jurors heard, swapping messages to make it appear they had arranged to meet.

Witnesses saw Brianna walking towards the linear park with Girl X and Boy Y after 2pm that day, the court heard.

Girl X was sending messages to and from the fictional drug dealer, named ‘Nathan’, Ms Heer said.

At 2.15pm Brianna sent a message to Girl X saying: ‘Girl, Ima wait where I am until we have drugs lol. I’m too anxious.’

Ms Heer said it showed that Brianna believed they were indeed meeting up to take drugs together – but also that it appeared she felt something was ‘amiss’.

At 2.30pm she sent a message to a friend, saying: ‘Girl X is so weird girl. I think she’s pretending to have a dealer.’

At 3.06pm, a message was sent from Brianna’s phone reading: ‘Girl where are you?’

Several seconds later, the Snapchat account records that Girl X deleted a chat.

Minutes later, a dog walker came across a bloodied Brianna lying face-down in the park, as two teenagers ran away.

Dog walker Ms Vize called 999 at 3.13pm saying ‘somebody had been attacked and that she had seen the attackers run away’, jurors were told.

She told police a boy and girl in their teens had run away after seeing her.

The two defendants then separated and went home, Ms Heer said, but remained in contact through messages.

She said they kept each other informed of press reports about a body being found in the park while ‘feigning ignorance’ about what had happened.

Brianna's father Peter Spooner rubs his eye as he arrives at court with his partner by his side

Brianna’s father Peter Spooner rubs his eye as he arrives at court with his partner by his side

Boy Y was also searching online for ways to combat anxiety, the court heard.

After arriving at his home just over an hour after Brianna was attacked, Boy Y sent Girl X a message reading: ‘So how’s your cat?’

‘Good lol,’ she replied. ‘How’s yours.’

‘It keeps trying to purr,’ Boy Y wrote.

At 5.25pm, Girl X messaged Boy Y saying: ‘My brother just told me not to [go to] linear park coz a woman got stabbed.’

Boy Y replied: ‘Jesus really.’

In a later message she informed Boy Y that a woman had been murdered, to which he responded: ‘Holy c**p.’

Shortly after 11pm that day, jurors were told Girl X sent Boy Y a message reading: ‘Do you have anxiety about getting caught?’

He replied ‘probably’, to which Girl X responded: ‘You’re not going to get caught don’t worry. Police are s**** here.’

Ms Heer said the following day, Girl X messaged Brianna’s phone saying: ‘Girl, is everything okay? Some teenage girl got killed in Linear Park its on news everywhere.

‘And why did you ditch us for some random man from Manchester. Like wtf. That is so f***** up.’

‘The prosecution say that was an obvious attempt by girl X to set up a sort of false defence, were anybody to look at her phone in due course,’ Ms Heer said.

The court heard that a post mortem found Brianna had a number of injuries consistent with raising her arms and trying to defend herself from her attacker.

‘The number of wounds and the pattern of injuries, taken as a whole, suggests that Brianna was subjected to a sustained and violent assault with a knife,’ Ms Heer said.

She told the court bottles of soft drinks were found at the scene with DNA from Girl X and Boy Y on, indicating they had been present.

She said they remained together as they walked away from the park and were spotted on dashcam footage at 3.15pm.

When the area was searched by police, Brianna’s mobile phone was found hidden in a drain, the jury was told.

Forensic officers carrying equipment through Culcheth Linear Park on February 13 - two days after Brianna was killed

Forensic officers carrying equipment through Culcheth Linear Park on February 13 – two days after Brianna was killed

Earlier she had told her ‘shocked’ boyfriend about Brianna’s death, jurors were told, adding: ‘It’s going to be okay, I’m here for you baby xx.’

That afternoon, jurors were told Girl X’s mother had called police after her daughter told her she had been with Brianna shortly before her death.

‘Girl X was with her at the time she called the police and told the police operator that they had been sitting on a bench in the park when Brianna looked at her phone and said she needed to meet some boy, a 17-year-old from Manchester who was going to meet her in his car,’ Ms Heer said.

‘She said Brianna just stormed off and that was the last time she saw her.’

Girl X then messaged boy Y, repeating the story she had told police and telling him: ‘Make sure story adds up.’

At 6.25pm on February 12 Girl X posted a tribute on Snapchat, accompanied by a photograph of Brianna eating a chocolate bar.

It read: ‘Brianna was one of the best people I have ever met and such an amazing friend, its so f****** sickening what got done to her.’

Meanwhile Boy Y was searching on the Crown Prosecution Service website for penalties for supplying or withholding information, jurors heard.

The court heard both defendants were arrested at their homes at about 7.30pm on February 12.

Along with the handwritten plan to kill Brianna, another note found in Girl X’s bedroom read: ‘Give them alcohol with sleeping pills, slit throat, dismember body, place pieces in bin bags.’

After being cautioned, Girl X said: ‘Me being a suspect, is it cos I’m the last person to see her?’

Meanwhile Boy Y – who was also cautioned – told arresting officers: ‘I can explain.’

He later told police that he had gone to the park with Brianna and Girl X and that at one point he had gone to urinate on a tree.

He then turned around to see Girl X stabbing Brianna, he claimed.

Boy Y said he had gone over to see if Brianna was still alive and had touched her, getting some blood on him, before the pair ran away.

He told police he asked Girl X ‘why she had done it’.

She replied that ‘Brianna had tried to break her and her boyfriend up, which was unforgivable’, Boy Y claimed.

‘He said he was panicked, stressed and in a little bit of shock.’

Girl X, who is from Warrington, has been found to have ‘traits of autism and ADHD’ since her arrest and showed ‘high levels of anxiety’, jurors were told.

Boy Y, who is from Leigh, Greater Manchester, had been diagnosed with autism, they were told, along with a ‘high level of social anxiety’.

As a result, the trial is being conducted with ‘more informality’ than normal, the trial judge, Ms Justice Yip, told them, with both accused being helped to follow proceedings by ‘intermediaries’.

The pair will be sentenced at a later date. 

Brianna Ghey killers could have struck again: Detectives fear two torture-obsessed teenagers would have moved on to other victims after they drew up a ‘kill list’ of five potential targets

Two ‘warped’ torture-obsessed teenagers with a ‘thirst for killing’ could have struck again had they not been caught, detectives said as they were convicted of Brianna Ghey’s murder today.

The boy and girl, then both 15, had drawn up a ‘kill list’ of five potential targets.

Detectives fear they may have moved onto another victim had they not been arrested barely 24 hours after the transgender schoolgirl was hacked to death.

Neither killer can currently be named due to their age – both are now also 16 – so they are instead being referred to as Girl X and Boy Y. 

‘Timid’ Brianna’s slight body was found lying face-down in the mud at a popular beauty spot in a Cheshire village on February 11 this year. 

Brianna Ghey was brutally stabbed to death in a park in a killing that appalled the nation

Brianna Ghey was brutally stabbed to death in a park in a killing that appalled the nation 

The teenager had suffered a horrifying 28 stab wounds in a ‘frenzied’ attack, with some of the wounds penetrating her heart, both lungs and major blood vessels.

While in real life, Brianna suffered from anxiety and had a small circle of friends, in the virtual world she had been on the way to becoming a social media sensation.

Her TikTok videos showing her styling her hair or lip-synching to pop songs had earned her 30,000 followers, many of them fellow transgender teenagers who saw her as an inspiration.

So her brutal and apparently inexplicable killing – on a Saturday afternoon, in a former railway cutting popular with dog walkers – caused waves of outrage and revulsion far beyond her home town of Warrington.

In the days that followed, a string of vigils were held across the globe for people to come together and express their grief.

Cheshire Police faced public pressure to treat Brianna’s brutal killing as a hate crime.

But within 24 hours, detectives had been given the names of one of her killers – a local girl who Brianna regarded as a good friend.

The name of the other soon followed as both had been seen with her in the village of Culcheth that afternoon.

Messages recovered from Girl X’s phone revealed she and Boy Y had drawn up detailed plans to kill five teenagers over the preceding weeks.

While Girl X was ‘obsessed’ with Brianna, Boy Y had never met her before the day of the murder.

His messages were littered with cruel references to Brianna as ‘it’ and dehumanising language.

After a teenage boy they wanted to kill ‘smelt a rat’, the WhatsApp chats showed how they turned their attention to Brianna.

Boy Y sent a message to Girl X saying ‘yeah, it’ll be easier and I want to see if it will scream like a man or a girl’.

Brianna's mother Esther (middle) makes her way into the court during the first day of the trail on November 27

Brianna’s mother Esther (middle) makes her way into the court during the first day of the trail on November 27

Following today’s verdicts, Detective Superintendent Mike Evans, head of Cheshire CID, branded the murderous pair ‘two very warped individuals’ who had demonstrated ‘a thirst for killing’.

He added that there were ‘not many murders where you get from plan to execution almost documented word for word’.

Asked whether he believed they could have claimed more victims had they not been caught so quickly, Det Supt Evans replied: ‘They did not seem particularly bothered by what they had done which maybe leads to the fact that there could have been, but God knows.’

A crumpled handwritten note was found in Girl X’s bedroom headed ‘Saturday 11th February 2023. Victim: Brianna Ghey’.

In the damning murder plan – an image of which she had sent Boy Y – she had written: ‘He stabs her in the back as I stab her in the stomach.’

The prosecution claimed that the ferocity of the wounds – inflicted using a 5in hunting knife which the trial heard Boy Y’s parents bought him during a skiing trip the previous month – and their locations suggested Boy Y had done exactly that.

A separate wound in Brianna’s stomach area could have been inflicted by Girl X as she lay dying, Deanna Heer KC claimed.

But following their convictions, Det Supt Evans said: ‘As to who did what, I am not sure we will ever know.’ 

Det Supt Mike Evans, head of Cheshire CID

Det Supt Mike Evans, head of Cheshire CID 

As to why they targeted Brianna, the senior detective said he believed it was down to how her ‘trusting’ nature made her particularly ‘vulnerable’ to the pair’s plotting.

‘I don’t think this was a case of hatred or ill-feeling,’ he said.

‘If it was not Brianna, it would have been one of the other four children on the list.

‘It is just Brianna was the one who was accessible at that time and because the focus of those desires.’

Acknowledging that Boy Y used ‘dehumanising and transphobic’ language, he highlighted how by contrast Girl X was ‘admiring and almost obsessed with Brianna’.

As a result, he sticks by his belief that ‘Brianna was not killed because she was transgender’.

Questioned whether they killed her ‘for fun’, Det Supt Evans replied: ‘They killed because they wanted to prove that they could and they had a thirst for killing.

‘Maybe enjoyment is the right word.’

But the ‘really intelligent and quite high functioning’ pair exhibited an ‘arrogance’ that ‘they would not get caught’, Det Supt added.

He slammed the killers’ ‘cowardice’ in subjecting Brianna’s family to a trial in which her terrifying final moments had to be picked over when there was ‘significant evidence’ against them.

Ursula Doyle, deputy chief prosecutor for Merseyside and Cheshire CPS, said the messages the pair exchanged had made ‘difficult reading’ and branded the plot to kill Brianna ‘absolutely shocking’.

‘Often messages need to be interpreted to find out what they mean, but these did not need to be interpreted, they were explicit and that is unusual,’ she said.

‘Their planning, the messages, the way they tried to cover up their offending all showed an arrogance.’

Heartbroken mother of murdered Brianna Ghey launches ‘mindfulness’ campaign in her daughter’s memory to urge school children to behave with ’empathy and compassion’ to one another

By James Tozer 

Since the shattering impact of Brianna’s murder in February, her mother Esther has focused her grief into a campaign to encourage children to behave with ’empathy and compassion’ to one another.

Determined to find a positive from the unfathomable tragedy, the food technologist has raised tens of thousands of pounds towards teaching mindfulness in schools.

She has spoken of her hope that killings like Brianna’s could be averted by encouraging young people to learn greater empathy towards their peers.

Speaking before the trial on the eve of what would have been her daughter’s 17th birthday, Ms Ghey said it was what Brianna herself would have wanted.

She has begun delivering assemblies in schools in the North West of England, saying mental health techniques are almost ‘more important than academic skills’.

‘You could come out with all straight As but if you can’t cope in life, if you are really struggling with anxiety and you don’t know how to manage that, then you’re…ultimately not going to be able to contribute to society in the way that you would like,’ she told ITV News.

Brianna Ghey was stabbed 28 times with a hunting knife in a frenzied attack on February 11

Brianna Ghey was stabbed 28 times with a hunting knife in a frenzied attack on February 11

Brianna's mother Esther Ghey was devastated by her daughter's  death and has focused her efforts on a campaign to encourage children to behave with 'empathy and compassion'

Brianna’s mother Esther Ghey was devastated by her daughter’s  death and has focused her efforts on a campaign to encourage children to behave with ’empathy and compassion’

Esther (pictured with Brianna) has begun delivering assemblies in schools in the North West of England to try and prevent future tragedies like the one that rocked her family from happening

Esther (pictured with Brianna) has begun delivering assemblies in schools in the North West of England to try and prevent future tragedies like the one that rocked her family from happening

Paradoxically, Ms Ghey, 37, was encouraged to try to find the positives from her unimaginable loss after being targeted by trolls following Brianna’s murder.

After initially wanting to ‘hide away’, she realised the trolls were the ones who were ‘massively struggling’ and needed help.

It coincided with her interest in mindfulness which began when she and partner Wes Powell took up wild swimming during the Covid lockdowns.

Their Peace In Mind campaign, run with support of the Warrington Guardian, aims to deliver mindfulness techniques in primary and secondary schools.

It has so far raised over £30,000 to send teachers on courses run by charity Mindfulness in Schools Project (MISP).

According to MISP, ‘mindfulness helps train your attention to be more aware of what is actually happening, rather than worrying about what has happened or might happen’.

Launching the campaign, Ms Ghey said the objective was to allow children to process and deal with negative emotions in a healthy way – preventing mental health problems from developing in later life.

‘The crime that was inflicted on Brianna is not a one off,’ she said. ‘Senseless acts of violence are happening far too often.

‘I believe to prevent this from reoccurring we need to weave empathy, compassion, and resilience throughout our society.’ 

Brianna's father Peter Spooner rubs his eye as he arrives at court with his partner by his side

Brianna’s father Peter Spooner rubs his eye as he arrives at court with his partner by his side

The campaign has won the backing of 80s icon Boy George and trans newsreader India Willoughby.

Ms Ghey said she hopes that the project will also help children like Brianna who struggle with their mental health.

Speaking to Pink News earlier this year she said ‘children nowadays have it so difficult, they’ve got the internet, pressures at school, pressures in society, social media’.

‘I want them to have this mental resilience as well and also empathy towards themselves.

‘If they have empathy towards themselves, they should have empathy towards other people and be a little bit more understanding of how other people are.’

Ms Ghey added that she and her elder daughter Alisha, 18, drew support from vigils held around the world following Brianna’s death.

‘I really, really appreciate that and it just shows how much good and love is actually in the world.’

Praising the ‘great dignity’ shown by Ms Ghey and Brianna’s father, Peter Spooner, throughout the court process, Detective Superintendent Mike Evans, head of Cheshire CID, said: ‘They have been an absolute credit and our hearts go out to them.’

To support the Brianna Ghey memorial fundraiser, please click here. 

How Brianna Ghey’s warped killer watched torture and death on the dark web: Experts say Girl X became ‘de-sensitised’ and ‘goaded’ into murder after accessing live streams of being physically abused in ‘red rooms’

By Liz Hull 

Girl X was likely ‘de-sensitised’ and ‘goaded’ into murder after watching torture and death on the dark web, an expert told the Mail.

Professor Alan Woodward, a computer science and cyber security specialist from Surrey University, said so-called red rooms – underground internet sites where people are physically abused to draw blood and even killed – were difficult to find and, consequently, hard for the police and law enforcement agencies to shut down.

The jury was told that Girl X downloaded an ‘onion browser’ six months before Brianna’s murder which allowed her to access and watch videos of people being murdered and tortured, sometimes via live streams, on the dark web without being traced.

Watching such content would no doubt have caused her to become disinhibited and desensitised to imagery most ordinary people would find horrifying, Prof Woodward said.

Girl X and Boy Y, who cannot be named as they are both 16, have been convicted of murdering Brianna (pictured) in Culcheth Linear Park near Warrington, Cheshire on Saturday, February 11

Girl X and Boy Y, who cannot be named as they are both 16, have been convicted of murdering Brianna (pictured) in Culcheth Linear Park near Warrington, Cheshire on Saturday, February 11

‘The psychologists call it disinhibition,’ he said. ‘The internet leads to a lot of criminal activity because it’s seen as fantasy. Users are not only desensitised but they are goaded into doing it themselves. 

‘They see other people doing it or they might do something softer or something illegal online and no one comes knocking at their door, so they carry out a frenzied attack and they don’t think of the consequences because they are still living in that online virtual world.

‘Police forces, law enforcement agencies are developing more and more techniques to try and unmask these sites, close down these sites. 

‘It’s happening all the time but unfortunately not fast enough to stop tragedies like this.’

Prof Woodward told the Mail’s The Trial podcast it was impossible to ‘stumble’ upon these sites and instead Girl X would have been ‘pushed’ towards them by the algorithms of social media after expressing an interest online.

‘Anyone who has expressed even the vaguest interest in something gets pushed towards someone else with the same interest and they all get scrunched up on the dark web,’ he said.

‘They start sharing these .onion addresses – that’s how they find these sites, and there are some really disturbing ones.

‘You can’t just go on the dark web and say, ”show me a snuff site or someone being tortured or beheaded,” or whatever it is you fancy, she would have had to have been told (where to go). 

‘Red rooms are where blood is involved, where people are being tortured and either killed or abused physically, where people draw blood.

‘They won’t stumble across them, you can’t accidentally find them. The dangerous and scary bit is that you need only to express the tiniest interest, which may be misunderstood by the algorithm, but they slowly get pushed together.

‘These sites can be anywhere in the world, it’s very difficult to trace them. Something like a red room, or a torture room, can involve static imagery but sometimes it can also involve live streaming and those are very difficult to get to.’

People leave flowers near Linear Park in Culcheth in February where Brianna Ghey was found

People leave flowers near Linear Park in Culcheth in February where Brianna Ghey was found

Prof Woodward said that, because these sites were difficult to find, they are also difficult for the police and other authorities to trace and close down.

‘Because they pop up and down you have to be very patient and try lots of things out in order to track them,’ he added.

‘This isn’t like on the ordinary web, where you go onto Google to find them. You have to go searching and when you search you find other people who direct you. One site will quite often direct you to another, so the more you use it (the dark web) the more you know.’

Prof Woodward said downloading onion browsers was not illegal and there is nothing to stop young people legitimately downloading them to access the dark web.

But Detective Superintendent Mike Evans, head of Cheshire CID who investigated the case, urged parents to talk to their children to understand what they were looking at ‘when they shut the bedroom door.’

Referring to Girl X and Boy Y, he said: ‘These were two very warped individuals to have done what they have done.

‘It needs a certain level of intelligence to access the dark web and I know as a parent the need to know what a child does when they shut the bedroom door.

‘There is a bit for all of us around internet safety and web awareness.’

Fonte