Esther Ghey had spent the day ice skating and visiting family with her eldest daughter, and had been pleased that Brianna, who suffered from social anxiety, had ventured out to meet new friends in Linear Park, near Warrington.
When she failed to answer her phone a few hours later, Ms Ghey assumed her phone had used up its battery, and was not initially concerned when she saw police cars in the area.
“I never thought for one second it would be Brianna” she told the Daily Mail. “But when we got back home there were also police in our street. We turned the corner and I could see our front door was open and there were two policemen standing inside.”
Ms Ghey was then informed by officers that a body had been discovered. “At one point one of the policemen said, ‘You will have to identify the body,’ and I just completely broke down. I said, ‘I don’t want to because it will make it real.”’
Brianna, a transgender teenager who had tens of thousands of online followers, had been stabbed 28 times with a hunting knife by her supposed friend Scarlett Jenkinson and her accomplice Eddie Ratcliffe, who were both aged 15 at the time.
Their harrowing trial heard that the two had a warped obsession with torture and murder, with Jenkinson compiling notes on serial killers and handwriting a plan to kill Brianna. Both were jailed for life, with Jenkinson receiving a minimum term of 22 years and Ratcliffe receiving 20 years.
In a show of compassion, Ms Ghey said of Jenkinson’s mother: “She will be grieving as well and I want her to know that I don’t blame her. I know how difficult it is to keep track of your children. Parenting doesn’t come with a handbook and no one wants to raise a child to do what they did.”
In the weeks after her death, Ms Ghey spent her time listening for the sound of Brianna’s laughter and has since decorated her bedroom in pink, which was her favourite colour.
She also believes that Brianna has been sending her signals to comfort her, with pink skies, rainbow clouds and pink cherry blossoms appearing each time her family are confronted with the reality of their loss.
She has also vowed to remain resolute, and has begun campaigning for better regulation of social media and wants new legislation to help parents control what their children can access online.
With Brianna’s mental health taking a hit during the Covid lockdown, her mother realised she was viewing disturbing pro-anorexia online posts, and believes that she would still be alive today if her killers hadn’t been consuming hateful material on the dark web.
So far, she has raised more than £70,000 towards promoting mental health in schools and hopes every school in the UK will have a dedicated mindfulness teacher.
Sunday will mark the anniversary of Brianna’s murder, with her family holding a vigil at 3pm in Warrington’s Golden Square shopping centre.
The aim, she says, is for Brianna “to see what we are doing and to know how much she is loved”.