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CrimeFamiliesTop Stories‘I Gave You Life, I Can Take It Away’ – Evil Woman Jailed For Strangling Two Of Her Sons And Plotting To Kill Four Others

‘I Gave You Life, I Can Take It Away’ – Evil Woman Jailed For Strangling Two Of Her Sons And Plotting To Kill Four Others

An evil woman who told her kids ‘I gave you life, I can take it away’ was jailed for life today (Tues) for strangling two of her eldest sons and plotting to kill four others.

Sarah Barrass, 35, told friends she would rather ‘kill my kids’ than have them taken away by social services as they probed her chaotic family life, a court heard.

She and Brandon Machin, 39 – the father of all her children and her half-brother – strangled Tristan, 13, and Blake, 14.

The teenagers were found on their bedroom bunks with black bin liners over their heads done in a bid to ensure they were both dead, a court heard.

Both died from asphyxiation having survived a previous attempt to poison them with medicines.

Sheffield Crown Court heard how Barrass had previously tried to kill four of her children by feeding them prescription drugs and had tried to drown one in a bath.

The court heard when police arrived at the scene, Barrass tried to shift the blame on to Machin for the murders.

Barrass and Machin hatched a plan to kill all of the six children they shared together after plotting murder for nine days.

They were concerned that social services would take the children away and expose their incestuous relationship.

They tried to poison four of their children on May 23 by forcing them to take a cocktail of drugs including prescribed ADHD medication.

Barrass expected them to die during the night, making ‘light-hearted’ Facebook posts that the children had caught a sickness bug.

When the children survived the night, Barrass called Machin at his home nearby and was summoned back to the property before they carried out their murderous plan on May 24 this year.

A court heard today they grabbed Blake and Tristan, with Machin strangling Blake whilst Barrass strangled Tristan, using a dressing gown cord.

Blake Barrass,14.
Tristan Barrass, 13.

The pair then swapped victims and placed black bin liners over their heads “to make sure”, a court heard.

Police, medics and an air ambulance were scrambled to a grisly scene at the Sheffield home at 7.30am on May 24 where they found the teenagers critically injured.

Tristan was pronounced dead at 09:14am that morning and Blake died 12 minutes later at, a court heard.

It was unclear whether the strangling or the bin bags were the cause of the deaths, Sheffield Crown Court heard.

Barrass barricaded herself in an upstairs bedroom with the four other children when police arrived.

Barrass was holding a notebook she handed to officers – it was open on a page entitled ‘Funeral Arrangements’.

The other four children, all under the age of 13 and who cannot be named for legal reasons, were taken to hospital and released later that day.

The court heard the children believed and told officers at the scene their father was dead, he having died in the second world war.

However, some of the children were heard to call Machin ‘dad’ and were not corrected on this.

Barrass admitted two counts of murder, five of attempted murder and one of conspiracy to murder six children in September this year.

She appeared alongside Machin who also pleaded guilty to the same charges.

The pair were expected to face trial, however, entered the last minute pleas and are due to be sentenced today.

Barrass and Machin were both jailed for life with a minimum term of 35 years at Sheffield Crown Court today.

They were each given 10 years for the five of attempted murder and one of conspiracy to murder six children which will run concurrently.

In the days before the murder, Barrass sent messages to a friend which included: “I’ve thought of every possible solution to this mess. Mass murder! Putting em all in care… checking into the local nuthouse… I love my kids too much to kill em.”

Social services were requested to be involved with the family, a court heard.

Kama Melly QC, prosecuting, told a court that the pair hatched the plan because feared the children were going to be taken into care.

She 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.”

The court heard that Tristan and Blake Barrass, aged 13 and 14 respectively, had survived an initial attempt to kill them using a drug overdose.

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 QC 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 as part of a cover-up.

But when she realised the tablets had not had the effect she wanted, she made internet searches 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 in the Shiregreen area of Sheffield.

Miss 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.

Miss Melly QC said: “Barrass and Machin first strangled Blake, then Tristan, then placed bin bags over their heads to ensure their certain death.”

Barrass then ran a bath and repeatedly tried to drown one of the younger children who had to fight her off, the court heard.

In a harrowing police interview, Machin said he killed Blake and Barrass killed Tristan – with the bags then wrapped around their heads to make “doubly sure” they were dead.

After murdering Blake because he got “that feeling when you just want to strangle the life out of someone”, the brute then calmly walked downstairs and had an energy drink.

Defending Barrass, Bryan Cox QC told a court the defendant had been profoundly affected by her childhood experiences which goes some way to explaining the murders.

He said: “The defendant’s personality was so profoundly damaged by her childhood experiences and events that they go a substantial way to explain what she did.

“It is clear, we submit, she was motivated to kill her children because she feared their removal from her care.

“As she came to believe it was inevitable, she contemplated the possibility of taking the lives of her own children.

“The evidence is clear that the defendant was devoted to her children.

“It is, we submit, notwithstanding what she did, very clear in her own terms she endeavoured to be a good mother to those children.

“She has in all intents and purposes fought in her own way, with her own difficulties to do her best for those children. She will now live with the consequences of that for the rest of her life.

“The tragic irony is they were all she had in life.”

In a victim impact statement put together by a social worker, a court heard the oldest surviving children wanted their parents to go to prison for “300 years”.

The court heard the two youngest surviving children are under the age of three and the two oldest surviving children are under the age of 13.

Reading extracts from the victim impact statements, prosecutor Kama Melly QC said: “When (the older two children) were told Sarah and Brandon had pleaded guilty to the murders of their brothers and the attempted murders of them, (one of them) said they were worried they would become a murderer when they were older because that’s what their mum and Brandon did.

“They said they didn’t want to be like that.”

The court heard that the children did not know that Machin – who is also Barrass’s half brother – was their father and had been told their father was dead.

Miss Melly said they would need a “significant amount of support” in relation to being told the truth and knowing that their mother lied to them.

She continued: “Both (the older children) are emotionally broken and don’t know why this happened.

“They repeatedly ask why and how. We don’t have the answers.

“The {older children} are very much confused and don’t know why this happened.”

In a victim impact statement, the child almost killed in the bath described how both defendants tried to drown them and how they had to ‘fight them off’.

The child doesn’t like ‘baths anymore’, a court heard.



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