Brianna Ghey's headteacher reveals school's mental health support

Brianna Ghey’s headteacher reveals school has introduced mental health support after students and staff were left ‘shocked’ and ‘angry’ by murder of ‘iconic’ transgender teenager

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The school attended by murdered transgender teenager Brianna Ghey is still offering mental health support to staff and students 10 months on from her death, its headteacher has revealed.

Brianna, 16, was stabbed 28 times with a hunting knife in a ‘frenzied’ attack by two 16-year-olds, identified in court as Girl X and Boy Y, on February 11 this year. Both have been convicted of her murder and will be sentenced next year.

The brutal slaying at Culcheth Linear Park near Warrington, Cheshire shocked the community, not least that at Brianna’s school, Birchwood Community High, where mental health support remains in place for pupils and staff almost a year on.

The school’s headteacher, Emma Mills, says everyone was left ‘shocked’ and ‘angry’ by the killing – and today spoke warmly of the ‘iconic’ pupil as a campaign started by the teen’s mother Esther to improve mental health awareness in schools ramps up.

She added that a cherry blossom tree, planted in Brianna’s memory in the school grounds, served as a reminder of the ‘fragility of life’.

Brianna Ghey was stabbed to death with a hunting knife at Culcheth Linear Park near Warrington in Cheshire in a ‘frenzied’ attack

Emma Mills, headteacher at Brianna’s school Birchwood Community High, says staff and pupils were left ‘shocked’ and ‘angry’ by the brutal murder

Brianna’s mother Esther (pictured outside court after the trial concluded on Wednesday) is leading a campaign to improve mental health among school pupils

Brianna Grey was stabbed 28 times with a hunting knife on February 11 — with two teens now convicted of murdering her

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

‘She (Brianna) was such a huge character in school. Everyone knew who she was and losing her has hit everybody so hard,’ Ms Mills told BBC Breakfast.

‘The way that we lost her is has just made it so much more difficult to comprehend. She was a real one-off — you couldn’t fail to notice her.

‘One thing was her real sense of style. She was iconic, really — her creativity, she did things her way.

‘It made her very strong, a true individual, attributes that would have served her well if she had been given that chance to grow older.’

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Ms Mills added that a variety of support had been made available to staff and pupils in the school who had been left in ‘shock’ and ‘anger’ as they tried to comprehend what drove Boy X and Girl Y to commit such a violent atrocity.

This includes private counselling and wellbeing sessions, help from external agencies and ‘increased capacity’ in the school’s pastoral team.

Ms Mills added: ‘The biggest thing we’ve done is support each other.’

The school has thrown itself behind the Peace In Mind campaign started by Brianna’s mother Esther and local newspaper the Warrington Guardian.

It aims to raise enough money to send teachers on Mindfulness in Schools Project training courses so they can support pupils’ mental health, with a mission of weaving ’empathy, compassion, and resilience’ into society.

The campaign has adopted the symbol of the cherry blossom tree, which blooms at around the time of year that Brianna was killed. One such tree has been planted in the grounds of Birchwood High in her memory.

Ms Mills added of Brianna: ‘The symbolic meaning of the cherry blossom, the fragility of life, it resonates with her.’

Other Birchwood staff have spoken of their grief at the killing.

Teacher Angela Clark told ITV News: ‘I can’t possibly say really in words how reading Brianna’s name, that she’d been murdered, felt. 

‘Safeguarding, you keep children safe, that’s what you’re here for, and on this occasion that hadn’t happened, we lost somebody.’ 

Yesterday, Brianna’s heartbroken mother paid tribute to her ‘funny, witty and fearless’ daughter and slammed her killers for not showing ‘an ounce of remorse’.

Speaking outside court, Esther Ghey said: ‘Brianna was larger than life. She was funny, witty and fearless. We miss Brianna so much and our house feels empty without her laughter.

‘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.’

Brianna’s father, Peter Spooner, said he was ‘so proud’ of his daughter and would never stop loving her.

Brianna’s heartbroken mother Esther paid tribute to her ‘funny, witty and fearless’ daughter and slammed her killers for not showing ‘an ounce of remorse’

Brianna’s father, Peter Spooner, said he was ‘so proud’ of his daughter and would never stop loving her

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’

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

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

Her killers were spotted fleeing the scene before being arrested by cops barely 24 hours after hacking Brianna to death.

Officers later discovered a chilling handwritten note detailing how they were going to murder her, headed: ‘Saturday 11th February 2023. Victim: Brianna Ghey’. 

Both had sought to blame the other for the killing, 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 of Brianna’s murder. 

Timeline of events leading up to Brianna’s murder  

Two youths have been found guilty of murdering teenager Brianna Ghey in a ‘frenzied and ferocious’ knife attack.

The two teenage defendants, known as girl X and boy Y, killed the 16-year-old in Culcheth Linear Park, near Warrington, Cheshire, on February 11.

Here is a timeline of events leading up to Brianna’s death:



– The two teenagers discussed killing a child referred to in court as boy M.

December 5

– Girl X sends boy Y a video which was apparently an advert for an underground site for people who like rape, snuff, torture and murder.

December 15

– Girl X messages boy Y, telling him she is ‘obsessed over someone’ called Brianna but did not have feelings for them.


January 1

– Boy Y sends girl X a photograph of a hunting knife and tells her: ‘Spent my money. I bought a knife.’

January 23

– Girl X messages boy Y, telling him she gave Brianna so many ibuprofen gel tablets it ‘should have been enough to kill her’.

January 26

– The two teenagers compile a list of at least four people, as well as Brianna, they wanted to kill.

February 3

– Girl X sends boy Y a picture of a handwritten note of their plan of how to kill Brianna, titled ‘Saturday 11th February 2023. Victim: Brianna Ghey’.

February 11

1.41pm – Brianna sends her mother a message saying: ‘I’m on the bus by myself, I’m scared.’

1.53pm – Brianna meets girl X and boy Y at a bus stop in Culcheth.

2.30pm – Brianna messages a friend, describing girl X as ‘weird’.

3.06pm – Brianna sends a message to girl X saying ‘Girl where are you’.

3.13pm – Brianna is found lifeless by dog walkers Kathryn and Andrew Vize.

4.02pm – Brianna is declared dead at the scene.

February 12

– Girl X and boy Y are arrested at their homes.

February 15

Police find Brianna’s phone in a drain, stained with her blood in an area girl X and boy Y were seen walking shortly after the murder.

Girl X’s parents were in tears after the guilty verdicts were delivered, while Boy Y’s mother was also crying.

Following the verdicts, 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.’

Ex-Culture Minister Lord Ed Vaizey has said ‘there is a public interest’ in naming the killers of Brianna Ghey. 

Lord Vaizey, who served as the Culture and Digital Minister from 2010 to 2016, appeared on Good Morning Britain today ahead of a judge’s decision over whether to lift anonymity orders protecting the identities of the teenage killers. 

Lord Vaizey said he ‘wouldn’t have a problem’ if the killers were named and claimed it would ‘help people understand what happened’. 

He also pointed out that ‘a lot of people’ in her local community ‘will know exactly who they are’, adding that ‘if the local community know who they are why shouldn’t the general public know who they are?’ 

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.

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.

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.

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,’ she said.

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 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.

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.

Disturbing messages exchanged between Girl X and Boy Y reveal how they plotted the killing

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.

In some messages, Brianna was referred to as ‘it’. 

Boy Y – who has autism and was allowed to type his testimony to police – said in one message: ‘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.’

In another message, Boy Y said: ‘I want to see if it will scream like a man or a girl’. 

The court heard the 999 call made by dog walker Kathryn Vize after she found Brianna at Culcheth Linear Park and had seen her attackers running away.

In a clip of the frenzied emergency call, she 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 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.’

Girl X and Boy Y sought to cover up their crime, with Girl X posting a tribute to Brianna on Snapchat the next day shortly before she was arrested. 

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.

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.’

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