Mother who murdered sons feared they would end up in care, court told

A mother who murdered two of her sons did so because she feared they would be taken into care, a court has heard.

Sarah Barrass, 35, and family member Brandon Machin, 39, carried out the killings of Tristan, 13, and Blake Barrass, 14, in the Shiregreen area of Sheffield on May 24.

The pair have admitted conspiracy to murder six of the female defendant’s children, including Tristan and Blake, and five counts of attempted murder.

A court heard on Tuesday how Barrass would regularly tell her children: “I gave you life, I can take it away.”

She and Machin are currently being sentenced for those offences, as well as the murders of Tristan and Blake, at Sheffield Crown Court.

Outlining details of the case, prosecutor Kama Melly QC said: “Visitors to Miss Barrass’s house would hear her tell the boys ‘I gave you life, I can take it away’.

“Speaking to the boys in that way was described as an everyday thing.”

During her plea hearing earlier this year, Barrass was warned that a whole-life jail sentence could be imposed on her.

According to the charges, the conspiracy to murder the six children took place between May 14 and May 20.

The attempted murders of Tristan, Blake and two other children took place on May 23. Barrass and Machin attempted to murder one of these children again a day later.

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

Miss Melly said: “None of the children wanted to take the tablets but were forced to do so.

“The defendants expected the tablets to kill the children overnight.”

The court heard that Barrass sent messages and made social media posts overnight claiming that they were suffering from a sickness bug.

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

All the surviving children, who cannot be named for legal reasons, are under the age of 13.

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