Man, 21, caged for life after confessing to murdering step-gran, 94, during game of Truth or Dare

A STUDENT who confessed to murdering his 94-year-old step-gran during a game of Truth or Dare has today been caged for life.

Mary Gregory was initially found by a coroner to have died in an accidental fire at her bungalow in Heysham, Lancs, in May 2018.

But her step-grandson Tiernan Darnton, 21, later revealed his "darkest secret" to pals during a game of Truth or Dare.

He said: "I have a secret I haven't told anyone. I may have killed someone."

When pressed further, he admitted used a lighter to set a curtain on fire at Mary's home as he did not want her to suffer from dementia any longer.

Darnton was today jailed for life with a minimum of 15 years for murder at Preston Crown Court.

Jurors heard how Mary was discovered in the conservatory of her smoke-logged bungalow on May 28, 2018.

She tragically died four days later in hospital.

Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service concluded the most probable cause of the blaze was a dropped cigarette and ruled out any third party involvement.

This later led to a coroner recording a verdict of an accidental death.

But the probe was reopened by police in May 2019 when Darnton admitted he killed Mary during a counselling session.

It then emerged he made the same confession during the Truth or Dare game two weeks earlier.

At the time, Darnton's friends did not believe him and he persuaded them to keep quiet.

The killer then told his counsellor about a friend “who could send me to prison cos of what he knows”.

He also chillingly revealed he felt “powerful” at an event involving a person who had died – believed to be Mary's funeral – as he “knew what had happened and everyone else in the room didn’t”.

His counsellor asked if he was trying to tell her he had killed someone, to which Darnton simply replied: "Yes".

The grim information was passed to police and Darnton, a former student at Kendal College and Lancaster & Morecambe College, was arrested.

Police then found harrowing internet searches on his phone and laptop – including "I'm a murderer", “I’m a monster and I’m going to hell”, “I want to cause evil” and “Urge to kill again”.

There were also detailed drawings of the floor plan of Mary's home containing labels that read "good hiding place" and "quick exit".

Despite the overwhelming evidence, Darnton tried worming his way out – claiming he just wanted to impress his "edgy" friends with his confession.

He also said his grisly comments to the counsellor was "attention seeking".

But jurors saw through his web of lies and he was unanimously convicted of murder after a trial.

Following the verdict, Detective Chief Inspector Zoe Russo, from Lancashire Police, said: "Darnton regularly visited Mrs Gregory's home after her son took him under his wing at a young age.

"Darnton would spend time at Mrs Gregory's bungalow and not only took advantage of Mrs Gregory's kind nature, he also used his access to her home to meticulously plan his murderous act."

More to follow…

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