A half-brother and sister from Sheffield, engaged in an incestuous relationship, have been given life sentences for murdering their two teenage sons, and a plot to kill their four other children.
Sarah Barrass, 35, and Brandon Machin, 39, pleaded guilty to murdering Blake Barrass, 14, and Tristan Barrass, 13, as well as conspiracy to murder four other children under 13.
They both received minimum 35 – year sentences.
Warning – Story contains graphic details on how children were murdered
The prosecution said Barrass was worried the children were going to be taken into care, where their parentage might be discovered.
The pair first tried to poison Barrass’ four eldest children using ADHD medication that had been prescribed for some of them.
When that failed, the pair strangled and then suffocated Tristan and Blake, the eldest of the six children, on 24 May at their home in the Shiregreen area.
They also tried, and failed, to drown another child in the bath.
In a police interview, Barrass said she had planned to kill herself afterwards.
A visitor to the house told police they had heard Barrass tell her children: “I gave you life, I can take it away.”
Prosecutor Kama Melly said: “None of the children wanted to take the tablets but were forced to do so.
” The defendants expected the tablets to kill the children overnight. “
Sheffield Crown Court heard that Barrass had sent messages and made social media posts overnight claiming the children had a sickness bug.
When she realized the tablets had not worked, she searched the internet for other ways to end their lives, including suffocating, strangulation and drowning.
She then called Machin to tell him their plot had failed, the court heard .
Ms Melly continued: “They decided the children were better off dead than in care and he said he would help Sarah Barrass to the best of his ability.
“Barrass and Machin first strangled Blake, then Tristan, then placed bin bags over their heads to ensure their certain death.”
The court heard that Barrass had strangled Tristan by wrapping her dressing gown cord around his neck an d pulling it for around three minutes, while Machin strangled Blake with his hands.
Following the murders and attempted murder of the younger child in the bath, the mother took the surviving children, two of whom are under three, to the bedroom and phoned the police.
The judge, Mr Justice Goss, said to Barrass: “You considered your love for them and fear of being parted from them entitled you to take their lives as well as your own.”
Following the sentencing, family friend Matthew Saunders said Blake and Tristan had a “bright future ahead of them”.
He continued: “They had so many friends and they lit up any room they were in – especially Tristan, who loved to dye his hair bright colors “.
” The boys have left behind younger siblings whose lives have been turned upside down. They adored their older brothers, and they looked up to them.
“We cannot put into words the pain and emptiness we feel”.
In an interview with Sky News, Barrass’ half-brother, Martyn, described his sister’s “bizarre” behavior when they were growing up, including a disturbing incident when the siblings discovered a bird nest.
“She just killed the two birds, straight across with stones,” Mr Barrass said. “I was crying my eyes out and she wasn’t even a *** d.
” And the [pet] mice that she had, she stamped on. It wasn’t normal behavior. I was in tears and she was just laughing. “
Martyn Barrass said Blake and Tristan were” smart kids “, who loved cars and motorbikes.
) “They’d have had wonderful careers, I know that,” he told Sky News. “They could have joined the police or whatever they’d have chosen to do.”
He described “feeling guilty” following his nephews’ murders.
“It’s messed me up a little bit,” he said. “I feel numb at times as well. I could have picked up on something.
“So I feel guilty, and like I’ve let them down like, everyone else.”