Student Guilty of Murdering Step-Grandmother After 'Truth Or Dare' Confession

A student has been found guilty of murdering his step-grandmother in a 2018 house fire while still a teenager, in a blaze at the time considered accidental.

Mary Gregory, 94, died from smoke inhalation following a blaze at her home in the U.K. county of Lancashire, which was initially viewed as an accident.

However, cops launched a new investigation when Tiernan Darnton, now 21, chillingly confessed to the killing in a game of truth or dare, in addition to making a similar confession to a counselor in 2019.

The Evening Standard reports he revealed his "darkest secret" during a game of Truth or Dare with two friends. He told them: "I have a secret I haven't told anyone. I may have killed someone."

He later referenced this during a counselling session about a friend "who could send me to prison cos of what he knows".

He added how he had felt "powerful" at an event involving a person who had died—believed to be Mrs Gregory's funeral—as he "knew what had happened and everyone else in the room didn't".

The counselor said to him "I'm not really clear what you're saying but I think you're trying to tell me you've killed someone", to which Darnton mouthed "Yes".

The murder trial presented a detailed 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 candy and a can of Coke bought from a nearby store at 2.20am and later discovered in the kitchen at the scene.

Tiernan Darnton Truth or Dare
Tiernan Darnton (L) has been found guilty of murdering his step-grandmother Mary Gregory (R) in a 2018 house fire, after confessing to his "darkest secret" during a game of truth or dare with friends Lancashire Police

Evidence presented to the jury included drawings discovered at Darnton's home address outlining the floor plan of Mrs Gregory's bungalow, with labels including "good hiding place" and "quick exit" and references for requiring a "good alibi."

Darnton denied murder but was convicted by a jury following a week-long trial. He will be sentenced on Friday.

A search of his personal computer following his arrest 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."

A month before the fatal blaze, which occurred when Darnton was 17, he also searched: "Under 18 murder".

Mary Gregory’s bungalow floor plan
The jury was shown drawings discovered at Tiernan Darnton’s home detailing the floor plan of Mrs Gregory’s bungalow. They contained labels including “good hiding place” and “quick exit” and references for needing a “good alibi”. Lancashire Police

The police investigation also noted 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 was unable to call for assistance.

Detective Chief Inspector Zoe Russo, from Lancashire Police Force Major Incident Team, said in a statement: "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.

"From his initial arrest and throughout Darnton has protested his innocence and put forward a concoction of lies in an effort to evade justice. And so, I want to express my gratitude to the prosecution team who have worked tirelessly to disprove those lies over many months and provided the catalog of evidence which has ultimately proven his guilt."