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The student who murdered his step-grandma in a house fire and then later admitted it during a game of Truth or Date has been jailed for life.
Tiernan Darnton will serve a minimum of 15 years behind bars for killing Mary Gregory, 94, in a house fire.
The 21-year-old was found guilty by a unanimous jury for the murder of his step-gran in May 2018, after a week-long trial at Preston Crown Court.
Emergency services were called to Mrs Gregory's bungalow in Heysham, Lancashire, shortly after 4am on 28 May, 2018.
The 94-year-old was taken to hospital following the blaze but she sadly died on 1 June 2018. Her cause of death was given as pneumonia and smoke inhalation.
An initial joint investigation by police and Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service concluded the fire started as the result of a discarded cigarette and an inquest in
October 2018 concluded Mrs Gregory's death was an accident.
However, following further information given to police in May 2019, when Darnton made a confession to his counsellor, a new investigation led by the Force Major Investigation Team was launched.
It then emerged that he'd made a similar confession - to killing his stepfather's mother - during a game of Truth or Dare with two friends where he revealed his 'darkest secret'.
He told his pals: "I have a secret I haven't told anyone. I may have killed someone."
When they asked him, he admitted he'd started the blaze because he didn't want Mrs Gregory to suffer anymore with dementia.
Following a lengthy and complex police investigation, and after consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service, Darnton, was charged with the murder of Mary Gregory in March of this year.
The murder trial detailed a timeline of events from the morning of the fire including evidence that placed Darnton at Mrs Gregory's house around the time of the fire.
This featured a packet of Turnock's teacakes and a can of Coca Cola purchased at nearby Tibicar service station at 2.20am and later discovered in the kitchen at the scene.
Evidence shown to the jury also included drawings found at Darnton's home address outlining the floorplan of Mrs Gregory's bungalow. They contained labels including 'good hiding place' and 'quick exit' and references for needing a 'good alibi'.
Darnton's laptop was seized following his arrest which revealed internet searches from the days after the fire including; 'Mental health support for murderers', 'Feeling guilty for murder', and 'I'm a monster and I'm going to hell'.
Our investigation also found that the spare key was missing from the outside key box, one of two smoke alarms at the property had been disabled and the home telephone was disconnected, meaning Mrs Gregory couldn't call for help.
Featured Image Credit: PA
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