Incestuous couple who strangled teenage sons and tried to kill four other children jailed for 35 years

An incestuous couple who murdered two of their teenage sons and plotted to kill four more have been told they will serve a minimum of 35 years behind bars.

Sarah Barrass, 35, and 39-year-old Brandon Machin - her half-brother and father to all six of her children - plotted together to kill the youngsters in May amid fears they would be taken into care.

They worked together to strangle their two eldest children - Tristan, 13, and Blake Barrass, 14 - before ensuring their certain deaths by placing bin bags over their heads.

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A court heard on Tuesday how two of the children that they had plotted to murder were under the age of three.

Sarah Barrass and Brandon Machin. PASarah Barrass and Brandon Machin. PA
Sarah Barrass and Brandon Machin. PA

Prosecutors told how the surviving children have said they wanted their parents to go to prison for "300 years" and that one feared they might "become a murderer".

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A packed public galley also heard how two of the children are "emotionally broken" by what happened and "repeatedly ask why and how".

A day before murdering Tristan and Blake on May 24, the sick pair had also forced the two teenagers, as well as two more of their children, to take tablets gathered from around the family home in Sheffield.

A court heard on Tuesday how Barrass and Machin both expected the mixture, which included prescribed ADHD medication, to end the lives of all four of them.

But when that failed, they killed Tristan and Blake before attempting to drown another child in the bath.

Sentencing the two to life jail-terms with a minimum term of 35 years, Mr Justice James Goss told 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."

The pair had both admitted murdering Tristan and Blake, plotting to murder all six of the children and five counts of attempted murder, two of which were against the teenagers who died.

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Prosecuting the case, Kama Melly QC told Sheffield Crown Court that, to the outside world, it appeared that Barrass and her children lived relatively ordinary lives.

"The picture of the Sarah Barrass household prior to the events in 2019 was, to the outside world, a household of a loving single mum with six children, heavily supported by her brother Brandon Machin," she said.

"In fact, unbeknown to everyone but the defendants, Brandon Machin was in a sexual relationship with his half-sister, Sarah Barrass, and he was the father of all six children.

"The children believed and even told officers at the scene that their father was dead, he having died in the Second World War."

Consensual sexual relationship

She said it was "clear that the relationship between the two defendants was of a consensual sexual relationship", adding that friends and relatives described Machin as a "pushover" and said that Barrass "definitely wore the trousers".

The judge said that the pregnancies of the six children had all been planned.

The prosecutor told how the mother-of-six was heard repeatedly making remarks such as "I gave you life, I can take it away" to the children.

The court heard how Barrass had sought help from the local authority with the youngsters, texting a friend that she had loved her children "too much to kill them".

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The message read: "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."

Miss Melly said that, on May 24, Barrass had strangled Tristan by wrapping her dressing gown cord around his neck and pulling on it for around three minutes, while Machin strangled Blake with his hands.

Following the murders and the attempted murder of the younger child who was placed in a bath, the mother took the surviving children, who are all under the age of 13, to the bedroom and phoned the police.