Update: Student who killed his grandmother is jailed for life

Update: Student who killed his grandmother is jailed for life

A student who murdered his step-grandmother in a house fire before confessing in a game of Truth or Dare has been jailed for life.

Tiernan Darnton, 21, killed Mary Gregory, 94, by using a lighter to set a curtain on fire on at an address in Heysham, Lancashire in May 2018.

The pensioner was discovered under a table in the conservatory of her smoke-logged bungalow on Levens Drive - and her death was initially ruled an accident.

A probe by the local fire service concluded the most probable cause was a dropped or carelessly discarded cigarette and ruled out any third-party involvement.

This then led to a coroner recording a verdict of an accidental death three years ago.

But police reopened the case in May 2019 following comments made by Darnton during a counselling session in which he said he killed Mrs. Gregory, his stepfather's mother.

During the inquiry it emerged that the killer had made a similar confession several weeks after his relative's death, during a game of Truth or Dare with two friends in which he revealed his "darkest secret".

He told the pair: "I have a secret I haven't told anyone. I may have killed someone."

When pressed, he said he started the blaze because he did not want Mrs. Gregory, formerly from Nuneaton, Warwickshire, to suffer any longer from dementia, Preston crown court heard.

Darnton's friends did not believe him and he persuaded them to keep quiet, but he told a counsellor in May 2019 about a friend "who could send me to prison cos of what he knows".

He added that he had felt "powerful" at an event involving a person who had died - thought to be Mrs. Gregory's funeral - as he "knew what had happened and everyone else in the room didn't".

The female counsellor ended the session by saying to him "I'm not really clear what you're saying but I think you're trying to tell me you've killed someone", to which Darnton mouthed "Yes".

A week later he told the counsellor and his stepfather, Chris Gregory, 66, that he had started the fire and the matter was later passed to the police by the counsellor, the court was told.

Darnton was jailed for life with a minimum term of 15 years on Friday.

Sentencing Darnton to life, Mrs. Justice Yip told him: "Murder had been on your mind for some time. On your own evidence, you were fascinated by serial killers and their crimes. You had dark thoughts.Latest Post