Student Who ‘Confessed To Killing 94-Year-Old Woman’ In Game Of Truth Or Dare Jailed For Life
A student who confessed to murdering his step-grandmother in a game of truth or dare has been given a life sentence.
Tiernan Darnton, 21, killed his 94-year-old step-grandmother by using a lighter to set a curtain on fire at her Heysham bungalow in May 2018.
Mary Gregory’s body was found underneath a table in her home and her death was initially ruled as accidental, with the local fire service concluding that the most likely cause of the fire was a dropped cigarette.
The case was reopened the following year after Darnton made comments during a counselling session that he had killed Gregory, the mother of his stepfather.
A police inquiry into Gregory’s death then found that Darnton had also previously confessed to killing her during a game of ‘truth or dare’.
Preston Crown Court heard that Darnton had started the fire because he didn’t want his step-grandmother to suffer any further from dementia.
The Daily Mirror reports that Darnton was today jailed for life with a minimum term of 15 years.
Speaking at his trial, Darnton said the case against him was ‘all a big misunderstanding’ and that his previous confessions had been false.
He claimed he had only admitted to killing Gregory to impress his friends and and seek attention from his counsellor.
However, examination of his phone and laptop found his internet searches after the fire included ‘I’m a murderer’, ‘I’m a monster and I’m going to hell’, ‘I want to cause evil’ and ‘urge to kill again’.
A month before the blaze he had also searched ‘under 18 murder’, though Darnton claimed that his Google activity was a result of his interest in true crime.
An expert for the prosecution concluded that the chances of the fire being started by a cigarette were ‘extremely remote’, and The Crown said there had been evidence of attempts to prevent exit from the bungalow.
The smoke alarm had been dismantled, a phone cable had been unplugged and a table placed in front of conservatory doors on the property, while a packet of Tunnock’s tea cakes and a can of Coca-Cola bought by Darnton two hours before the fire started were discovered at the scene.
The jury was also shown evidence from Darnton’s home, including floor plans of Gregory’s bungalow with labels such as ‘good hiding place’ and ‘quick exit’ along with references to the need for a ‘good alibi’.
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677