Killer was moved to Brianna Ghey’s school after spiking younger girl

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Jenkinson poisoned Brianna with tablets weeks before murdering her, Manchester Crown Court was told
By Hayley Mortimer
File on 4

Killer Scarlett Jenkinson was moved to a new school and met Brianna Ghey after drugging a younger pupil with a cannabis sweet, the BBC can reveal.

Jenkinson faced being expelled but was instead moved to Birchwood Community High School in Warrington, Cheshire.

She later tried to poison Brianna before murdering her in February 2023.

BBC News has been told Birchwood School was not aware Jenkinson had drugged another pupil. Warrington Borough Council said a review was under way.

Jenkinson and Eddie Ratcliffe are due to be sentenced for the murder of Brianna. The 16-year-old was stabbed 28 times in a “ferocious” attack in a park in Cheshire in February 2023.

The judge in the case lifted reporting restrictions at a hearing on Friday, meaning Jenkinson and Ratcliffe can now be named for the first time as her killers.

This ruling means more details of the case can also now be reported, including how Jenkinson was moved between schools and how she first met Brianna, who was transgender.

Brianna Ghey was 16 at the time of her death

Cheshire Constabulary confirmed it was made aware of the incident with the cannabis sweet at Culcheth High School – which Jenkinson originally attended – on 27 September 2022.

It involved a 13-year-old victim, who became ill afterwards. Jenkinson was aged 15 at the time.

Police say the incident was recorded as a spiking.

“The matter was reviewed and the victim’s family spoken to,” a Cheshire Constabulary statement said. “They did not support further police action so the matter was passed to the school to provide ongoing support.”

After the incident, Culcheth High School arranged for Jenkinson to be transferred to Birchwood Community High School as part of a managed move.

The move was designed to avoid permanent exclusion and to give Jenkinson a second chance. It was at her new school that Jenkinson befriended Brianna.

The pair met while in the school’s inclusion room, a place for students who need one-to-one teaching and support. Jenkinson spent three hours a week there – working independently on the subjects her new school couldn’t fit into her timetable.

Less than four months after moving schools, she poisoned Brianna by giving her tablets.

Emma Mills, Birchwood’s headteacher, said she had been been told that Jenkinson had been caught with cannabis edibles.

But File on 4 can reveal that Birchwood was not aware that a younger pupil had been given the sweet by Jenkinson and had eaten it without knowing what was in it.

“We were told it was a one-off incident, where she knew she’d made a mistake,” Ms Mills told the BBC.

Cannabis is an illegal Class B drug. Cannabis-infused edibles are often referred to as “gummies” because they come in brightly coloured packets and look like sweets.

But they can be dangerous. They can take a long time to take effect so there is a risk those taking them can take too many – triggering psychosis, paranoia, heart problems, anxiety and even loss of consciousness.

Chris Hunt, head teacher at Culcheth High School, said it was “fully supportive of, and engaged with” a local child safeguarding practice review in the wake of Brianna’s death. He added: “We are devastated by these tragic events, which have had a profound impact on our school community.”

In a statement issued by Warrington Borough Council, the school said it was unable to comment on the incident with the cannabis sweet or the claim that Birchwood had not been fully aware of what had happened until the review is completed.

A spokesperson for Warrington Safeguarding Partnership said the review “will look at all aspects of this very serious case”, adding it was important not to pre-judge its findings.

‘In agony’

Less than four months after the incident with the cannabis sweet, the trial heard evidence that Jenkinson poisoned Brianna with tablets.

Brianna’s mother Esther Ghey recalled arriving home to find her daughter being sick: “She was just writhing around in agony, holding her stomach, saying that she felt like she was going to die.”

On January 23, around the same time that Brianna became ill, Jenkinson exchanged WhatsApp messages with Ratcliffe.

Jenkinson told Ratcliffe: “You know that girl I mentioned, Brianna, I’m still tryna kill her and the easiest way is pill overdose.”

Later in the same day, she messaged him again to say: “Brianna is still ill. Those tablets I gave her might slowly be killing her.”

Dr Amanda Holt, a criminologist at the University of Roehampton in London, told File on 4 it is very unusual for children with no previous track record of violence or offending to decide to kill somebody.

“If you look at the history of children who engage in homicide, there is inevitably a history of increasing violence,” Dr Holt said, “and some of that violence might involve previous attempts to commit homicide.”

File on 4 tells the story behind the brutal killing of 16-year-old transgender schoolgirl Brianna Ghey.

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