Tiernan Darnton sentenced to life after Truth or Dare confession



A 21-year-old UK man has been sentenced to life in prison after he confessed during a game of Truth or Dare that he killed his stepgrandmother — whose death in a fire was initially ruled accidental, according to reports.

Tiernan Darnton set Mary Gregory’s home in Heysham, Lancashire, ablaze on May 28, 2018, trapping the 94-year-old, who was found under a table in the conservatory of her smoke-filled bungalow, the BBC reported.

She succumbed to her injuries four days later and her death was initially treated by fire investigators as an accident caused by a cigarette, Sky News reported.

But police reopened the case in 2019 after Darnton made incriminating comments about his stepfather’s mother during a counseling session, saying he ignited a curtain at her home and that others knew about his crime.

He made a similar confession several weeks after the fire during a game of Truth or Dare in which he told two pals about his “darkest secret.”

“I have a secret I haven’t told anyone — I may have killed someone,” he told his friends, adding that he set the fire because he didn’t want his stepgrandmother to suffer from dementia anymore, Preston Crown Court heard.

In 2019, he reportedly told a counselor about a friend “who could send me to prison ’cause of what he knows” — and later confessed to the counselor and his stepfather, Chris Gregory, 66, that he set the blaze, the Guardian reported.

Mary Gregory died from injuries caused by the fire set to her Lancashire home.
Mary Gregory died from injuries caused by the fire set to her Lancashire home.
Lancashire Police

“Murder had been on your mind for some time,” Justice Amanda Louise Yip, who sentenced Darnton to life with a minimum of 15 years behind bars, said Thursday, according to the outlet.

“On your own evidence, you were fascinated by serial killers and their crimes. You had dark thoughts. Internet searches which you made before and after you killed Mrs. Gregory paint a worrying picture,” she said.

“Your opportunity to act on your dark thoughts came when your stepfather was away. In the early hours of 28 May 2018, you went to Mrs. Gregory’s home and deliberately started a fire in one of the bedrooms,” the judge continued.

Drawings of Mary Gregory's floor plan were shown to the jury.
Drawings of Mary Gregory’s floor plan were shown to the jury.
Lancashire Police

“It is hard to imagine the horror Mrs. Gregory must have felt when she realized her house was on fire and was filling with smoke. Neighbors heard her screams. Despite her frailty, she tried to get out, but she had been trapped,” she said.

“Her final days were spent in hospital. Quite understandably, her condition in those days continues to haunt those who loved her. The manner of her death was particularly cruel,” Yip added.

On Darnton’s cellphone and laptop, investigators found internet searches made after the fire that included “I’m a murderer,” “I’m a monster and I’m going to hell” and “I want to cause evil.”

The jury also was shown detailed drawings at Darnton’s home that outlined the floor plan of the victim’s bungalow.

“No one could seriously think that trapping an elderly woman in a burning building was an act of mercy,” the judge said.

Gregory’s son Peter told the court that the actions of Darnton — who had “no biological or legal connection with our family whatsoever” — continue to torment his family, the BBC reported.

“Having learned that my mum’s death was at the hands of Tiernan Darnton, whom we had willingly welcomed into our family home, is disgusting and shattering,” he said.


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