Mother jailed for life after killing teenage sons out of fear they would go into care

A mother who murdered two of her sons and plotted to kill four more out of fear they would be taken into care has been jailed for at least 35 years.

Sarah Barrass, 35, plotted with Brandon Machin, 39, (pictured) the father of the children and her half-brother, to kill them in May.

Teenagers Tristan, 13, and Blake Barrass, 14, died after being strangled by the pair at a property in the Shiregreen area of Sheffield, and having bin bags placed over their heads.

Sheffield Crown Court heard on Tuesday how, prior to the killings, Barrass and Machin had given four of her children – including Tristan and Blake – tablets against their will.

The pair also tried to kill one of Barrass’ children by attempting to drown them in a bath.

A judge ruled that Barrass and Machin should both be jailed for life with a minimum term of 35 years.

Prosecutors told how Barrass had requested help with the children from the local authority with the children, texting a friend to say: “I’ve thought of every possible solution to this mess. Mass murder, putting them all in care, checking in to the local nut house.

“I love my kids too much to kill them, I can’t put them into care for the same reason.”

Kama Melly QC, prosecuting, said that visitors to the children’s home would hear Barrass tell her children: “I gave you life, I can take it away.”

Mr Justice Goss, sentencing, 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.”

The court heard that the defendants gathered up tablets from around the house on the evening of May 23 and divided them between four of the children.

Miss Melly said: “The defendants expected the tablets to kill the children overnight.”

But when Barrass realised the tablets had not had the intended effect, she began to search for information on the internet about alternative methods of murdering her children, including suffocating, strangulation and drowning.

She then called Machin to the house, with Miss Melly adding: “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 how Barrass had strangled Tristan by wrapping her dressing gown cord around his neck and pulling on it for around three minutes, while Machin strangled Blake with his hands.

Following the murders, and the attempted murder of the younger child, Barrass took the surviving children into her bedroom and eventually called the police.

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