Sarah Barrass: Mother who murdered two of her children and conspired to kill four more jailed for life

Sarah Barrass murdered her teenage sons (Picture: PA)

mother who murdered two of her children and conspired to kill four more has been jailed for life.

Sarah Barrass, 35, along with Brandon Machin, 39, strangled her sons Tristan, 13, and Blake Barrass, 14, and put bin bags over their heads in the Shiregreen area of Sheffield in May because she feared they would be taken into care.

Barrass and Machin were both sentenced to life imprisonment, to serve a minimum of 35 years.

After a reporting restriction was lifted, it can now be reported that Machin is Barrass's half-brother and the father of the six children.

The pair had admitted conspiracy to murder six of her children, including Tristan and Blake, and five counts of attempted murder.

Sheffield Crown Court heard on Tuesday how Barrass would regularly tell her children: "I gave you life, I can take it away."

Mr Justice Goss 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."

After a failed attempt to poison four of the children, Barrass and Machin strangled the two boys then placed bin bags over their heads. They then tried to drown one of the younger children in a bath, the court heard.

Sarah Barrass, left, and Brandon Machin, her half-brother and father of the six children, have been jailed for life for murder (Pictures: PA)

Kama Melly QC, prosecuting, said: “Sarah Barrass said she would rather see her children dead than see them in care.”

"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."

Ms Melly said the mother-of-six sent a message to a friend, in which she said: "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."

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.

Tristan Barrass, 13, was murdered along with his brother (Picture: Facebook)
Blake Barrass, 14, was murdered by his parents in May (Picture: Facebook)

The court heard that the defendants gathered up tablets, including prescribed ADHD medication, from around the house on the evening of May 23 and divided them between the four eldest children in an effort to poison them.

Ms 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."

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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.

Barrass called Machin and told him the plan had not worked and he needed to come to the house.

A court artist's sketch of Sarah Barrass, left, and Brandon Machin, right, flanked by security staff in the dock of Sheffield Crown Court in May (Picture: PA)

Ms Melly said: "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."

The court heard that Barrass and Machin strangled Blake and Tristan then placed bin bags over their heads.

The court heard that Barrass strangled Tristan by wrapping her dressing gown cord around his neck and pulling for around three minutes. Machin strangled Blake with his hands.

Police at a property on Gregg House Road in Shiregreen, Sheffield, in May (Picture: PA)

The defendants then ran a bath and repeatedly tried to drown one of the younger children, the court heard.

The court heard that Barrass told police she planned to kill the younger two children and herself after the older four had died.

She described how the children were "terrified" as she tried to make them take the tablets and the child she tried to drown was "hysterical" as she held his head under the water.

The court heard that Blake saw his mother strangling Tristan with the dressing gown cord before he was strangled by Machin.

The funerals of Tristan and Blake Barrass were held in August (Picture: PA/Getty)
Motorbikes escorted the funeral cortege of Tristan and Blake Barrass to Grenoside Crematorium, Sheffield, in August (Picture: PA/Getty)

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

‘Nothing but evil’

Bryan Cox QC, mitigating for Barrass, described her crimes as "evil and nothing but evil" but said she was "profoundly damaged by her childhood".

He continued: "The defendant was desperate to prevent her children being taken into care. She couldn't cope with the prospect of them being removed."

Mr Cox told the court Barrass had "experienced a chronically traumatic childhood".

He said: "She was, over many years, subject to sustained neglect and emotional, physical and sexual abuse."

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

Tristan and Blake were remembered in a funeral at Grenoside Crematorium, during which an honour guard of 300 motorcycles and two Lamborghini cars accompanied them.