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Transgender cat killer to be jailed in men’s prison for murdering stranger

A transgender cat killer who murdered a stranger will be sent to a men’s prison as a judge said the attacker used a transitioning story to “shift responsibility to others”.

Scarlet Blake, 26, was sentenced to life in prison with a 24-year minimum term at Oxford Crown Court on Monday.

Prosecutors said Blake hit Jorge Martin Carreno over the back of the head with a vodka bottle in July 2021 and choked him before pushing him into the River Cherwell, where he drowned.

Mr Carreno, who did not know Blake, had been coming home from a night out when he encountered his killer.

The murder came just four months after Blake killed a cat before placing it in a blender, on the instruction of a former girlfriend.

In his sentencing remarks on Monday, Judge Martin Chamberlain said Blake had derived “pleasure” from killing the 30-year-old and that a Netflix documentary, Don’t F--k With Cats, had “played a part” in cementing in the murderer’s mind the killing of a person and a cat.

Blake, who is a transgender woman, previously spoke of how coming out to relatives at 12 years old led to an “emotional rift” within the family.

Judge Chamberlain highlighted this complaint, along with unsubstantiated claims of mental illness, as an attempt by Blake to “rationalise” the crime.

Addressing Blake in his sentencing remarks, the judge outlined Blake’s claims of not wanting to “kill a living creature, let alone a person” and the blame the murderer on Ashlynn Bell, a former girlfriend based in Colorado, who is also a trans woman.

Judge Chamberlain said: “You attributed your morbid interests to a split or dissociative personality, using the language of psychiatry or psychoanalysis.

“You adopted the persona of a cat. You talked about the difficulties you had had since transitioning in childhood to live as a woman and about your troubled relationship with your parents.

“All this was part of an elaborate attempt to rationalise what you had done and shift responsibility to others.”

Judge Chamberlain stressed that the murder was “not the fault” of Blake’s parents and whatever role Ms Bell played in “encouraging” an “interest in killing”, it was the murderer’s ultimate decision.

“She did not control or direct you,” Judge Chamberlain said.

“Even if the decision was motivated in part by a desire to please her, the decision to kill was entirely yours.”

Scarlet Blake was sentenced to at least 24 years in prison and will be sent to a man's unit
Scarlet Blake was sentenced to at least 24 years in prison and will be sent to a man's unit - Vagner Vidal/Hyde News & Pictures Ltd

Blake’s mother, Fang Chen, a clinical researcher at the University of Oxford, gave no reaction when Blake nodded at her on the way out from the dock.

Judge Chamberlain previously told the jury, who sat on the two-week trial, that the fact Blake was trans “on its own has no particular relevance to the case”.

“It doesn’t make it any more or less likely that she is guilty of the offence with which she is charged,” he added, as he summed up the evidence heard during the trial.

He added that jurors were allowed to consider Blake’s “stature” and whether they believed the defendant was “physically able” to carry out the attack on Mr Carreno.

At 69kg (approximately 10 stone 12lb), the court heard Blake weighed almost two stone more than her 57kg (just under 9 stone) victim and was as tall as Mr Carreno, at around 171cm (5’ 7”).

Blake, who was born in China and immigrated to the UK in 2002, told jurors that never exercising was a means to avoid “masculine muscle gain”. Jurors heard Blake’s strength was the equivalent of an “unfit female”.

‘A void impossible to fill’

Giving evidence in court, Blake claimed Ms Bell had been a driving force behind the killing.

“She was wanting to make me do this thing and I was pretty much... well at a limit after going through with the killing of the cat,” Blake told the jury.

In a victim impact statement read in court by Gerardo Carreno, one of Mr Carreno’s triplet brothers, the family described how the BMW plant worker “radiated kindness and humour among all those lucky enough to know him”.

In a statement that Blake listened to with a frown, Gerardo Carreno continued: “We miss Jorge every day, thinking, ‘What would life look like if he hadn’t met Scarlet that night?’

“This loss feels like a traumatic, devastating blow, leaving a void impossible to fill.”

The judge remarked that Blake’s crime was “very much more serious” than most cases of its category and that there was a “clear sexual motivation” for the murderer, with the Oxford resident telling a former girlfriend of killing “because my lover said it’d be hot”.

Judge Chamberlain gave Blake a 24-year minimum term with a life sentence for Mr Carreno’s murder.

Two concurrent sentences of four months and two months for causing unnecessary suffering to an animal and criminal damage were also handed down in respect of the cat incident.

Blake gave no visible response as the sentence was handed down.

Speaking outside court, Det Supt Jon Capps, the senior investigation officer, said: “This defendant showed calculated cruelty. The acts Blake has been convicted of are barbaric and chilling.

“The murder was premeditated with total disregard and disdain for life.”


07:53 PM GMT

That’s all for today

Thanks for following our live coverage of Scarlet Blake’s sentencing.

Check the website for the latest updates.


07:46 PM GMT

CCTV clip of Blake


07:24 PM GMT

Women’s Rights Network comments on Blake


06:57 PM GMT

Voice note by Cat killer Scarlet Blake


06:45 PM GMT

Here is a brief summary of today’s events

Jorge Martin Carreno had “his life stolen by Scarlet”, according to a victim statement from his brother, Gerardo Carreno.

Carmen Carreno, the mother of the victim, echoed that and said: “There can be no peace until justice is served.”

Later on in the trial Prosecutor Alison Morgan KC said the evidence established a “sexual motivation for the killing”.

Richard Sutton, KC, for Blake, in his submissions conceded it was “unlikely any parole board will come to the conclusion that she is likely to be released”.

Blake was then sentenced to serve a minimum of 24 years in prison for the murder for Jorge Martin Carreno.


05:20 PM GMT

Blake’s ‘barbaric and chilling’ acts ‘showed calculated cruelty’

Giving a statement outside court, Detective Superintendent Jon Capps said: “There have been several aspects of this case that have been truly disturbing to see, hear and deal with.

“This defendant showed calculated cruelty. The acts Blake has been convicted of are barbaric and chilling.

“This murder was premeditated, with total disregard and disdain for life.”

DCI Capps paid tribute to Mr Carreno’s family for the “enormous dignity” they had shown “throughout this ordeal”, adding: “I cannot begin to imagine the pain that they feel.

“As the evidence has developed, they have had to come to terms with this not only being a murder, but the nature and character of this defendant.

“It is something that I know that serves only to compound the grief they feel.

There can be no beginning to understand this senseless act.”

Referring to Mr Carreno, DCI Capps said: “He clearly meant so much to so many. It is Jorge’s life that will be remembered over and above the actions of the defendant.


04:43 PM GMT

Recap

The murder of Carreno came four months after Blake live-streamed the killing of a cat, Oxford Crown Court heard.

Blake told the family pet: “Here we go my little friend. Oh boy, you smell like shit. I can’t wait to put through the blender.”

After the killing, she dissected the animal, removed its fur and skin, and placed its body in a blender.

During the video, the New Order song True Faith plays in the background, which the court heard was in homage to the Netflix documentary Don’t F*** With Cats, in which a man kills kittens before filming the murder of a human.

Blake “boasted” about the killing with others and “her desire to open up a person like her ‘little cat friend’”.


03:58 PM GMT

Location of Jorge Martin Carreno’s body


03:35 PM GMT

Jorge Carreno’s ex-girlfriend: He had a pure soul

Jorge Carreno
Jorge Carreno

Jorge Carreno’s ex-girlfriend Irene Hidalgo has said the 30-year-old Spaniard had a “pure soul” who “only had kind words for everyone”.

Speaking to the Oxford Mail, Ms Hidalgo, who was in a four-year relationship with Mr Carreno, said:

Jorge was that person who was always willing to listen to me without interrupting. He would go with me to that art exhibition of that artist only I knew, and he put enthusiasm and effort into it just because it meant a lot to me.

Jorge was a person who rejoiced in my accomplishments, who pushed me to achieve my goals, who celebrated everything good that could happen to me, not only when we were a couple, but always.

I can say with certainty that I am where I am, in part, thanks to him. Jorge was that person who was proud of his family, for whom his siblings meant everything, he loved them. And he made you part of that love, he knew how to convey it so well...

He was that person who did everything with heart, with passion, and that made him authentic.

Jorge had a pure soul, he had no malice, he only had kind words for everyone, and always a smile, even on his worst days. He was always ready to greet you with his wide smile. I will always remember that smile.


03:26 PM GMT

CCTV of Scarlet Blake moments before murder


03:25 PM GMT

CPS: Scarlet Blake will spend long time in prison for ‘extremely disturbing and cruel crimes’

After the sentencing, lawyer Hayley Garey, for the Crown Prosecution Service, said:

This was a complex and challenging case, but once Scarlet Blake was identified as the person walking with Jorge Carreno on the night he died, we were able to build a case based on medical and forensic evidence that secured a conviction for murder.

DNA on the top of a vodka bottle placed Blake at the riverside where Jorge died, and pathology results interpreted alongside Blake’s interests in strangulation provided a clear picture to the jury of how Jorge was killed.

Scarlet Blake will now spend a long time in prison for these extremely disturbing and cruel crimes.

Jorge’s family have suffered an immeasurable loss, but we hope that this sentence brings them some sense of justice.


03:14 PM GMT

Sentencing remarks in full


03:14 PM GMT

Judge: Decision to kill Jorge was culmination of plan formulated for months

Judge Chamberlain said the defendant had intended to kill Jorge Martin Carreno although he could not be sure of the exact method used.

It is not possible to say exactly how, whether you hit him on the back of his head with a vodka bottle or something else you had in your backpack, then strangled him by applying pressure to the blood vessels just beneath his jaw using your hands or ligature, then putting in the river where he drowned.

You may have held him down in the water while strangling him. Either way, you intended to kill him, and you did.

The decision to kill Jorge was not a reaction to something he had said or done - it was not a momentary mistake, it was not a decision made in anger or because your emotions overcame you.

It is the culmination of a plan you’ve been considering and formulating for months before, and after July 25 as you showed an obsession with harm and death.


03:08 PM GMT

Judge: I’m sure you did derive pleasure from killing Jorge, as you had the cat

During the sentencing, Judge Chamberlain told Blake:

You decided to kill someone because you believed Ashlynn Bell would find it sexually exciting, as in fact she did.

As you later said to another partner, you killed “because my lover said it’d be hot”.

There was, therefore, a clear sexual motivation for the killing.

You also believed that you would derive pleasure, whether sexual or not, from the experience of killing a person.

I am sure you did derive pleasure from killing Jorge, as you had from killing the cat.


03:04 PM GMT

Judge: You revelled in what you had done

The full sentencing remarks have been released and will be posted to the blog shortly.

Here is a snippet from Judge Martin Chamberlain.

You revelled in what you had done, returning at least twice to the scene to take photographs, and made conscious use of your status as a murderer to secure the admiration of others who shared your interests in harm, death and killing.


02:52 PM GMT

Scarlet Blake to serve a minimum of 24 years in prison

Scarlet Blake has been sentenced to serve a minimum of 24 years in prison for the murder for Jorge Martin Carreno.


02:40 PM GMT

Judge: Decision to kill was entirely yours

Addressing Blake, Judge Chamberlain said: “You told the court you didn’t want to kill a living creature, let alone a person, and it was Ashlynn [Bell] who persuaded you to do so.

“You adopted the persona of a cat, you talked about the difficulties you have had since transitioning as a child to live as a woman and about your troubled relationship with your parents.”

Judge Chamberlain also referred to claims Blake gave that she was suffering from a mental health condition – dissociative identity disorder.

However he said there was “no evidence” that Blake had any relevant mental health problems and that it was “not the fault” of her parents.

“All of this was part of an elaborate attempt to rationalise what you have done and to shift the blame on others,” he continued.

Stressing that Ms Bell remained in the US when the killing took place, he said, “The decision to kill was entirely yours.”


02:14 PM GMT

Scarlet Blake sentencing to resume

Judge Martin Chamberlain has returned to resume the sentencing of Scarlet Blake at Oxford Crown Court.


01:14 PM GMT

Guardian row over cat killer reporting

Louise Tickle
Louise Tickle said she would boycott the Guardian over its reporting of Scarlet Blake

As we await for the sentencing of Scarlet Blake, we can report on a row at The Guardian newspaper over its reporting of Scarlet Blake.

A writer for the Guardian has boycotted the newspaper for failing to tell its readers that a cat killer who murdered a stranger was transgender, Blathnaid Corless reports.

Scarlet Blake, a 26-year-old trans woman, was found guilty last week of murdering Jorge Martin Carreno in July 2021 on his way home from a night out, four months after Blake’s Netflix-inspired killing of a cat.

Louise Tickle, an award-winning journalist who has written for the Guardian for more than 20 years, has accused the newspaper of “deceiving its readers” for using the word “woman” in its headline and omitting the fact Blake was transgender in an article covering the case.

In a letter to Katharine Viner, the newspaper’s editor, Ms Tickle said: “I’ve contributed to the Guardian for nearly two and a half decades, but as a result of an utterly dismaying news piece published on Friday, I cannot do so again until I’m confident that the Guardian is able to demonstrate that its reporters, editors and management understand what constitutes a fact, and stops deceiving its readers.”

Read the full story here.


12:38 PM GMT

Blake to be sentenced at 2.15pm

The Judge has retired and will return to deliver Blake’s sentence at 2.15pm.


12:37 PM GMT

Defence barrister: Jorge Carreno in ‘wrong place at wrong time’

Jorge Carreno captured on CCTV before the murder
Jorge Carreno captured on CCTV before the murder

Richard Sutton KC said: “What we do submit is that on this occasion sadly Mr Carreno just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, this wasn’t as the Crown suggests a planned forage in order to find the victim.”

He said Blake was “like other people enjoying herself” shortly after the “lifting of the lockdown” by going out for a walk.

Mr Sutton said Mr Carrerno was not “particularly vulnerable, certainly by the virtue of age or disability”.

He added: “It is interesting looking at the CCTV there is no indication of kidnapping or forcing Mr Carreno to go with her by Scarlet Blake.”


12:30 PM GMT

Defence barrister: Murder motive was acceptance not sexual

Mr Sutton is inviting the judge to consider the murder as an “initiation ceremony” to impress Ms Brockman and Ashlynn Bell, rather than a crime motivated by sexual pleasure.

“It would be more likely in the circumstance in this case that the motivation was not sexual but to gain approval - impress those with which she was involved,” he told the court.

“We would submit that the starting point is 15 years but the background will justify an increase to a higher figure. Clearly it is not conduct that should be encouraged and the court has to show its disapproval of this sort of behaviour.”


12:26 PM GMT

Defence barrister: Blake unlikely to be released

Richard Sutton, KC, for Blake, has now begun his submissions.

“Scarlet Blake has been found guilty of murdering Jorge Carreno,” he said.

“To that she will be sentenced to life in prison - that is the sentence for what she has done.”

He added: “One has to look at Ms Blake’s background and decide that she is in one sense a dangerous person, she persists in the lifestyle that she has adopted and it’s clear that it is unlikely that any parole board will come to the conclusion that she is likely to be released into society.”


12:24 PM GMT

Judge: Cat killing is ‘relevant’

Judge Chamberlain has confirmed the killing of the cat is “relevant”.

He told the court: “Well certainly, the cat incident is relevant because it casts a light on how the defendant’s attention developed and that issue is relevant to the sentence, the minimum term rather, for murder.”


12:14 PM GMT

Judge told cat killing is aggravating factor

The judge has been invited to consider the fact that Blake was “fully aware of the death of Mr Carreno, evaded arrest for two years” and “derived sexual pleasure” from it.

The killing of the cat has also been put forward as an aggravating factor.

Ms Morgan said: “The events relating to the cat are a feature that the court may wish to approach as an aggravating feature, demonstrating the defendant’s overall demeanour and overall approach to causing harm to others.”

She added: “We respectfully submit that there are no mitigating factors in this case the defendant has shown no remorse for her actions.”


12:05 PM GMT

Prosecutor: Evidence establishes sexual motivation

Prosecutor Alison Morgan KC is inviting Judge Chamberlain to consider the murder as involving “sexual conduct” due to the evidence heard in court revealing how Blake derived sexual gratification from strangulation.

Ms Morgan KC said: “We submit that all of that evidence plainly establishes a sexual motivation for the killing, to derive sexual pleasure for herself and others.”

She said that while there was no evidence of sexual assault on Mr Carreno, the act of strangulation was “itself of sexual nature”.

Ms Morgan KC said: “It was an action as indicated by the evidence of Dr Lockyer which did not in and of itself cause death. The court is invited to consider that it was a gratuitous act, likely committed when the deceased was unconscious.”

If the judge agrees with this, then it will be an “aggravating factor” which could lead to a lengthier sentence.


12:03 PM GMT

Cat owner submits victim impact statement

Judge Martin Chamberlain has confirmed he has received a victim impact statement prepared by the owner of the cat killed, Fiona Parker reports.

It will not be read in court today, but Judge Chamberlain confirmed he had seen it.


12:01 PM GMT

Carmen Carreno: ‘There is no peace until justice is served’

Carmen Carreno, the mother of victim Jorge Martin Carreno, has read out her statement in Spanish which was then repeated in English by an interpreter.

Jorge with his caring and friendly nature was always spreading joy with his wit and contagious curiosity.

He was always ready to help and listen to others. He was overall an incredibly good person.

The loss of Jorge has not only left an open wound in this family but to all those who had the pleasure of knowing him.

It’s left a void impossible to feel. The pain of losing a son and brother in such strife is a trial no family should face.

Today his absence leaves a great wound in our hearts. His life was stolen. There can be no peace until justice is served. We don’t just ask for justice for him but protection for other families.

The full statement can be read here.


11:49 AM GMT

Gerardo Carreno: My brother’s life was stolen by Scarlet

Jorge Martin Carreno’s brother Gerardo has given an emotionally charged victim statement to the court as Scarlet Blake’s sentencing gets underway.

Mr Carreno told the court: “We were triplets born together, grew up together, we were best friends.”

He said his brother was “above all an incredibly good person” who had a life “full of love”.

“He dreamt of a future where he could make a difference with his skills and ambitions, he told the court.

“Going through the pain of losing a son and a brother is a challenge no family should face. His life was stolen by Scarlet. The last two years have felt like an eternity. It’s been sleepless nights and days.”

Blake, 26, showed no emotion as he read his statement, frowning slightly, while staring at him.


11:29 AM GMT

Sentencing hearing about to begin

Oxford Crown Court is about to hear the sentencing of Scarlet Blake for the murder of Jorge Martin Carreno.

Blake is in the dock wearing a black blazer.

Mr Carreno’s family are inside the court.


11:22 AM GMT

‘I hope this outcome gives voice to Jorge’

Continuing his statement Det Supt Capps added:

My team have worked tirelessly under enormous pressure to achieve this outcome and put the best possible case before the jury. Their dedication and pride in their work, motivated to obtain justice for Jorge and his family, has been outstanding. In gathering and reviewing evidence, they have been exposed to material that no one should ever have to review. This work is nearly always an unseen part of policing but their resilience has been exceptional. I am proud of all of them.

We have been assisted throughout this investigation by numerous experts from the National Crime Agency, whose advice proved invaluable. I also want to particularly acknowledge the assistance given to us by the United States Postal Inspection Service in this case; they went out of their way to ensure that recovering evidence and conducting enquiries in the United States was as smooth as possible. Their support helped ensure charges against this defendant and has played a significant part in subsequently securing a conviction.

The skill and expertise of prosecuting counsel has been plain to see and I extend my sincere thanks to them for sharing the determination to obtain justice for this family.

I know the jury have had to see and listen to very disturbing evidence and support will be offered to them. I want to thank them for their careful considerations in this case, in difficult circumstances.

Whilst our investigation can never ease the pain felt by the family, I hope that this outcome at least gives a sense of justice and has given a voice to Jorge, whose life will forever be remembered by all those he meant so much to.


11:08 AM GMT

Police: ‘Barbaric’ Blake showed calculated cruelty

Let’s recap what Thames Valley Police said after Blake was found guilty of murder on Friday.

Det Supt Jon Capps, of Thames Valley Police’s Major Crime Unit, said:

Today’s verdict marks the end of a long and complex investigation. I know that many will want to focus on the actions and behaviour of this defendant.

There are several aspects of this case that have been truly disturbing to see, hear and deal with. This defendant showed calculated cruelty. The acts Blake has been convicted of are barbaric and chilling. The murder was premeditated with total disregard and distain for life.

Thankfully crimes such as these are incredibly rare. I want rather to focus on Jorge and his family and pay tribute to them and the enormous dignity they have shown throughout this ordeal.

They have put their trust in my team. I cannot begin to imagine the pain they feel. As the evidence has developed they have had to try to come to terms with this not only being a murder, but the nature and character of this defendant, something that I know has served only to compound the grief they feel. There can be no beginning to understanding this senseless act.


10:56 AM GMT

‘Our beloved Jorge was exceptional being’

Jorge Carreno was described by relatives as an "exceptional being"
Jorge Carreno was described by relatives as an "exceptional being" - Hyde News and Pictures

The family of Mr Carreno released an emotional tribute through Thames Valley Police following Blake’s conviction.

“We as a family, wish to pay tribute to Jorge, our beloved son and brother, an extraordinary being full of passion and kindness. Jorge was not only an exemplary child but also an exceptional being.

“He was distinguished by his incredible affection, friendliness, and his ability to give himself fully to others.

“Jorge’s innate curiosity and creativity drove him to explore, learn, and experiment tirelessly. He studied electrical engineering, where his dedication and passion were evident in every project he undertook, manifesting in a deep commitment to innovation.”

Read family tribute here.


10:49 AM GMT

Who was Jorge Martin Carreno?

Jorge Martin Carreno was a Spanish national living in Oxford
Jorge Martin Carreno was a Spanish national living in Oxford - Thames Valley Police

Jorge Martin Carreno, was a 30-year-old Spanish national who was living and working in Oxford.

Born a triplet, Mr Carreno studied electrical engineering and had a passion for music, photography, reading, and sports.

He was found dead on Monday 26 July 2021, face down in the water at Parsons Pleasure. Mr Carreno died while returning from a night out where he had become separated from friends.

At the time there was no clear third party involvement in the death. The pathology evidence was inconclusive and the Coroner recorded a narrative verdict.

Thames Valley Police continued to investigate the circumstances of the death in an effort to find the person seen in the CCTV and establish what they knew about Jorge’s movements.

In April 2023 information was received from the United States. This information claimed to identify the person seen on the CCTV. Extensive work followed, leading to the arrest of Blake on suspicion of murder in August 2023. Blake was subsequently charged.


10:40 AM GMT

Murderer who mutilated cat copied Netflix killer’s scheme

Scarlet Blake, rear, has been found guilty of murdering 30-year-old Spanish citizen Jorge Carreno
Scarlet Blake, rear, has been found guilty of murdering 30-year-old Spanish citizen Jorge Carreno

A murderer copied a Netflix killer by mutilating a cat then attacking a stranger and blaming someone else for encouraging them, a court has heard.

Scarlet Blake, a 26-year-old transgender woman, was found guilty on Friday of killing Jorge Carreno in July 2021, having hit him on the back of the head with a vodka bottle before strangling him and pushing him into the River Cherwell, where he drowned.

Blake had previously said how she had killed a cat and put it in a blender four months earlier, on the instruction of a former girlfriend, inspired by a Netflix documentary about a man who filmed himself killing kittens before murdering a student.

But during a two-week trial, Blake denied attacking Mr Carreno – a stranger who was on his way home from a night out – saying that the same girlfriend, Ashlynn Bell, had encouraged a graduation from killing animals to a human.

Read more: Murderer who mutilated cat copied Netflix killer’s scheme by Max Stephens and Fiona Parker


10:33 AM GMT

Good morning

Scarlet Blake will be sentenced at Oxford Crown Court on Monday
Scarlet Blake will be sentenced at Oxford Crown Court on Monday - Thames Valley Police

The Telegraph will be providing live updates of the sentencing of Scarlet Blake, the cat killer who murdered a stranger on his way home from a night out in Oxford.

Blake was found guilty on Friday of murdering Jorge Martin Carreno, 30, in July 2021 by hitting him in the back of the head with a vodka bottle before strangling him and pushing him into the River Cherwell where he drowned.

Oxford Crown Court heard how Blake had killed a cat four months before the murder, placing the animal in a blender, which was inspired by the Netflix documentary called Don’t F*** with Cats in which a man kills kittens before murdering a human.

We have a reporter at Oxford Crown Court and will bring you all the latest news from the sentencing expected to start at 11.30am.