Search icon


12th Nov 2021

Student who revealed he killed grandmother during ‘truth or dare’ game is jailed for life

Charlie Herbert

Student jailed for life for murder of grandmother

Tiernan Darnton had earlier been found guilty following a week-long trial

A student who revealed he had killed his step-grandmother during a game of ‘truth or dare’ has been sentenced to life in prison.

Tiernan Darnton was on Friday sentenced to life with a minimum term imposed of 15 years.

The 21-year-old admitted killing Mary Gregory, 94, at Preston Crown Court on Thursday after setting fire to her house in May 2018.

The fire had initially been thought to have been an accident, but further enquiries led officers to conclude it had in fact been started deliberately by Darnton.

Evidence shown to the jury included meticulous plans for the killing and floor plans the student had drawn up in preparation for the act.

These included labels including “good hiding place” and “quick exit.”

Darnton admitted to the killing in a game of truth or dare with friends, which he later told his counsellor about.

He told two friends in the game: “I have a secret I haven’t told anyone. I may have killed someone.”

The friends had thought he was joking, but in May 2019 Darnton told his counsellor about a “friend who could send me to prison cos of what he knows”.

At the sentencing hearing, Mrs Justice Yip said murder had been on his mind “for some time” and that in the month before the fire, the student had been “searching ‘Under 18 murder’ and ‘How long do murderers serve in prison?'”

In a statement from Lancashire Police after Darnton was found guilty, detective chief inspector Zoe Russo said: “Darnton regularly visited Mrs Gregory’s home after her son took him under his wing at a young age. Darnton would spend time at Mrs Gregory’s bungalow and not only took advantage of Mrs Gregory’s kind nature, he also used his access to her home to meticulously plan his murderous act.

“From his initial arrest and throughout Darnton has protested his innocence and put forward a concoction of lies in an effort to evade justice. And so, I want to express my gratitude to the prosecution team who have worked tirelessly to disprove those lies over many months and provided the catalogue of evidence which has ultimately proven his guilt.

“Our thoughts remain very much with Mrs Gregory’s family and friends. We hope this verdict provides them with some form of closure and they can now start moving forward with their lives.”