Two teenagers were found guilty on Wednesday of murdering Brianna Ghey, a 16-year-old transgender girl who was stabbed 28 times at a park in northwest England in February, local prosecutors said.
The two, both 16 and referred to by prosecutors only as “Girl X” and “Boy Y,” had carefully planned the killing in a series of WhatsApp messages, before attempting to cover up their crime, the Crown Prosecution Service in the United Kingdom said in a statement.
The two had pleaded not guilty, but were convicted by a jury after an 18-day trial in Manchester Crown Court, local authorities said. Their lawyers could not be immediately reached for comment on Wednesday evening.
Justice Amanda Yip told the two teens, who will not be named because of their age, that she would “have to impose a life sentence” but would need to consider the minimum time they would be required to serve before being considered for release, the BBC reported.
“The planning, the violence and the age of the killers is beyond belief,” prosecutors said in the statement, noting that Brianna, a student in the town of Birchwood, had been stabbed in a public park in broad daylight in a “frenzied and ferocious attack.” Prosecutors described the “deadly influence” of the two teens upon one another, as their fantasies of torture and murder manifested into a reality that left Brianna dead.
Speaking after the trial, Brianna’s mother, Esther Ghey, said that she was glad the two teens, who she said had failed to “display an ounce of remorse,” would spend many years in prison. “To know how scared my usually fearless child must have been when she was alone in that park, with someone that she called her friend, will haunt me forever,” Ms. Ghey said.
According to court documents, Brianna was discovered on the afternoon of Feb. 11 by a couple walking in Culcheth Linear Park, about 12 miles west of Manchester, when they noticed the two teens standing near what they believed to be a dog. As the couple approached, the teens fled, and they instead found Brianna, stabbed multiple times in the head, back, chest and neck.
The extent of the wounds, which included deep and severe lacerations to Brianna’s veins, heart and bones, prosecutors added, left “no doubt that she was the victim of a sustained and violent assault.” Shortly afterward, emergency medical workers arrived at the park, and pronounced Brianna dead.
According to prosecutors, “Girl X,” and “Boy Y,” who were both 15 at the time, were close friends who often texted about their crushes and relationships. They were also “preoccupied with violence,” prosecutors added, sharing violent videos of torture, debating the merits of various nerve agents as means to murder, and plotting how to kill people.
In December 2022, “Girl X” also confided in “Boy Y” that she was “obsessed” with Brianna, whom she had met about a month earlier, according to prosecutors. Brianna was born as a boy, but was living as a girl and using female pronouns, they said. By January, however, “X’s fascination with Brianna had turned darker,” prosecutors said, leading her to confide in “Boy Y” that she had tried to kill Brianna with an overdose of ibuprofen tablets.
People “already know she is depressed,” “Girl X,” wrote in a message to “Boy Y” on Jan. 23, indicating that she believed others were likely to get suspicious. But “for some reason she has a high tolerance like I gave her some today that should have been enough to kill her,” she added. Although Brianna had felt ill and vomited, “she didn’t die,” “Girl X” said in the message. According to the documents, Brianna’s mother confirmed her daughter had been sick that week, and that her vomit had contained what she thought were grape skins but could have been the remnants of ibuprofen tablets.
In the following days, the two teens continued discussing various methods for killing Brianna, as well as four other people they knew, according to prosecutors, and by late January, had formulated their plan to stab her in the park. On Feb. 10, “Girl X” told “Boy Y” that she had sent a message to Brianna encouraging her to come to the park the following day to take drugs, and that Brianna had confirmed she would be there at 1 p.m. “Boy Y” confirmed he was bringing his hunting knife, prosecutors said.
Brianna, who had red hair and glasses, and that day wore a short gray tartan skirt, long white socks and a fluffy white hooded jacket, left home around 12:45 p.m. on Feb 11., according to prosecutors. About an hour after leaving home, Brianna, who according to her mother, rarely went out alone, texted her mother: “I’m on the bus by myself, I’m scared.”
Detective Inspector Nige Parr of the Cheshire Constabulary, which investigated the death, said in a statement on Wednesday that he hoped that the guilty verdict might bring some closure to Brianna’s family as they attempted to rebuild their lives.
“Brianna did not deserve her fate,” Detective Inspector Parr said. “She was targeted because she was different, and betrayed by someone she thought was a friend, and for her to have lost her life as a result of their senseless actions is tragic in every sense of the word.”