A transgender teenager was stabbed to death by two 16-year-olds who wanted “to see if she screamed like a boy or a girl” a court heard.
Brianna Ghey, 16, was allegedly murdered by the pair, who had previously drawn up a “kill list” of at least five victims, and had a “preoccupation with torture and violence”.
Neither of the accused, who are both now 16, can be named because of their age. They were identified on the first day of their trial only as girl X, from Warrington, and boy Y, from Leigh, Greater Manchester.
On Monday, Manchester Crown Court heard that in the months before the killing, X had developed a “dark obsession” with Brianna because she was “really different”.
Brianna was found by dog walkers with fatal wounds on a path in Culcheth Linear Park, near Warrington, Cheshire, shortly after 3pm on Feb 11 this year.
Jurors were told she had been stabbed 28 times in the head, neck, back and chest in a “sustained and violent assault” by the two teenagers, who had discussed in depth the way in which they planned to kill her.
The court heard that at the time of her death, Brianna – who had been born male – was living, dressing and referring to herself as a female.
In text messages, the teenagers discussed whether Brianna would “scream like a boy or a girl” as they plotted how to “assassinate” her, the court heard.
Her alleged killers, both aged 15 at the time, had previously tried to lure her to the park weeks earlier under the pretext of taking drugs, only for Brianna to cancel at the last minute.
X, wearing a dress and grey cardigan, and the boy, wearing black trousers and shirt with a grey tie, sat silently in the dock as the trial began.
Opening the prosecution case, Deanna Heer KC said that text messages exchanged between the alleged killers in the days, weeks, and months before the murder “showed they were preoccupied with violence, torture and death”.
“[The messages] record them discussing how they wanted to kill people they knew.
“If that was not an unusual way for two teenagers to speak to one another, the messages demonstrate how, over time, they encouraged one another to to think about how they would actually carry out a killing, and show how they planned together to kill Brianna in just the way that she was in fact killed.”
In text messages sent in November 2022, three months before Brianna was killed, the pair discussed killing another boy, named only as M, who was interested in the same girl as Y.
X later claimed to have murdered two people, although prosecutors said there was no evidence that this was true.
On 15 Dec 2022, she sent a message to Y which said: “I’m obsessed over someone I know but don’t have feelings for them … She’s called Brianna … I don’t know how to explain. Also she has a d--- lol.”
The court heard that Y responded to the message with offensive slurs.
X told him that Brianna was “trans” and she “sounded just like a girl and looked really pretty”.
The court heard that Y responded: “I don’t think you’re necessarily in love but I think you’re more curious and intrigued by its unnatural nature.”
X agreed that she found Brianna “fascinating”, adding, “She’s really different”.
A month before the killing, in January, the court heard, X’s obsession with Brianna “turned darker”.
On Jan 28, two weeks before the murder, the teenagers hatched a plan to lure Brianna to Linear Park, the court heard.
Brianna did not attend the park on that occasion, cancelling her plans at the last minute.
Over the weekend the teenagers continued to discuss how they would kill Brianna.
The judge, Mrs Justice Yip, told the jury that the boy has been diagnosed with autism since being remanded in custody and has “high levels of anxiety”. His verbal communication was “very limited”, she said.
The girl had also been diagnosed with “traits of autism and ADHD” and anxiety, she added.
The trial continues.
04:35 PM GMT
That is all that the jury will hear today. The prosecution’s opening will continue on Tuesday morning.
Our live coverage has now ended.
03:54 PM GMT
Girl X was 'obsessed over someone called Brianna', court hears
The court was told in December last year girl X messaged boy Y telling him she was “obsessed over someone” called Brianna but didn’t have feelings for them.
After she sent pictures of Brianna to him, boy Y asked: “Is it a femboy or a tranny?”
Girl X told him Brianna was trans, sounded just like a girl and looked really pretty, the court was told.
Deanna Heer KC, prosecuting, said on January 23 girl X messaged boy Y telling him she had given Brianna ibuprofen gel tablets that “should have been enough to kill her”.
Brianna’s mother Esther Ghey recalled her daughter had been sick around that time, the court heard.
03:44 PM GMT
Girl X - 'I love watching torture vids'
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, Ms Heer told the court.
Girl X told boy Y: “I love watching torture vids. Real ones on the dark web”, the jury heard.
The court heard on January 1, boy Y sent girl X a photo of a hunting knife and told her: “Spent my money. I bought a knife.”
Ms Heer said: “It was this knife, members of the jury, that was to be used to kill Brianna Ghey just six weeks after this image had been sent.”
03:41 PM GMT
Accused showed 'preoccupation with torture and death'
Ms Heer 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 November 2022, they discussed killing a child referred to as boy M, the court heard.
In one message, girl X said: “If I do end up killing boy M, I have a really sharp blade, the same one that Sweeney Todd uses.
“If we kill boy M can I keep some things, a couple of teeth and an eye.”
03:29 PM GMT
Prosecution opening - Brianna was 'victim of sustained and violent assault'
Opening the case at Manchester Crown Court, Deanna Heer KC, said the body of Brianna Ghey was found in Linear Park in Culcheth, near Warrington on February 11 this year, reports Will Bolton.
The 16-year-old had been stabbed 28 times, to the head and neck and to the back and chest and suffered a “catastrophic” loss of blood.
Miss Heer added: “Many of the stab wounds had caused damage to her bones, including her chest bone and her ribs, and would have required considerable force to inflict.
“There can be no doubt that she was the victim of a sustained and violent assault.”
Ms Heer continued: “Each defendant denies that they are guilty of murder. Each denies that they participated in her killing at all. Each blames the other.
“The prosecution case is that, whoever delivered the fatal blows, both defendants are equally guilty. Acting together, they planned and executed their plan to kill Brianna Ghey.”
03:28 PM GMT
Who are the accused?
Both defendants, now aged 16, have now appeared at Manchester Crown Court for the start of their trial, expected to last between three and four weeks. Both deny murder.
Neither accused can be named by court order because of their age and are identified only as girl X, from Warrington, and boy Y, from Leigh, Greater Manchester.
Both are held in secure youth accommodation.
03:27 PM GMT
The Telegraph will be providing live updates as two teenagers stand trial accused of murdering transgender teenager Brianna Ghey.
Brianna, 16, was found with fatal wounds on a path in Culcheth Linear Park, near Warrington, Cheshire, shortly after 3pm on Saturday February 11 earlier this year.
A girl and a boy, both aged 15 at the time and from the local area, were arrested and charged with the murder of Brianna, a pupil at Birchwood High School, Warrington.