Brianna Ghey's warped killer watched torture and death on the dark web
How Brianna Ghey’s warped killer watched torture and death on the dark web: Experts say Girl X became ‘de-sensitised’ and ‘goaded’ into murder after accessing live streams of being physically abused in ‘red rooms’
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Girl X was likely ‘de-sensitised’ and ‘goaded’ into murder after watching torture and death on the dark web, an expert told the Mail.
Professor Alan Woodward, a computer science and cyber security specialist from Surrey University, said so-called red rooms – underground internet sites where people are physically abused to draw blood and even killed – were difficult to find and, consequently, hard for the police and law enforcement agencies to shut down.
The jury was told that Girl X downloaded an ‘onion browser’ six months before Brianna’s murder which allowed her to access and watch videos of people being murdered and tortured, sometimes via live streams, on the dark web without being traced.
Watching such content would no doubt have caused her to become disinhibited and desensitised to imagery most ordinary people would find horrifying, Prof Woodward said.
Brianna Ghey, 16, was stabbed with a hunting knife 28 times in her head, neck, chest and back in Linear Park, Culcheth, a village near Warrington, Cheshire, on the afternoon of February 11
Professor Alan Woodward, a computer science and cyber security specialist from Surrey University, said so-called red rooms – underground internet sites where people are physically abused to draw blood and even killed – were difficult to find
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The first series ‘The Trial of Lucy Letby’ was a global hit, with more than 13 million downloads, while season two focused on the murder of Ashling Murphy, a 23-year-old teacher from Ireland.
Its third season follows the tragic case of Brianna Ghey, a 16-year-old transgender girl killed in Warrington, England.
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‘The psychologists call it disinhibition,’ he said. ‘The internet leads to a lot of criminal activity because it’s seen as fantasy. Users are not only desensitised but they are goaded into doing it themselves.
‘They see other people doing it or they might do something softer or something illegal online and no one comes knocking at their door, so they carry out a frenzied attack and they don’t think of the consequences because they are still living in that online virtual world.
‘Police forces, law enforcement agencies are developing more and more techniques to try and unmask these sites, close down these sites.
‘It’s happening all the time but unfortunately not fast enough to stop tragedies like this.’
Prof Woodward told the Mail’s The Trial podcast it was impossible to ‘stumble’ upon these sites and instead Girl X would have been ‘pushed’ towards them by the algorithms of social media after expressing an interest online.
‘Anyone who has expressed even the vaguest interest in something gets pushed towards someone else with the same interest and they all get scrunched up on the dark web,’ he said.
‘They start sharing these .onion addresses – that’s how they find these sites, and there are some really disturbing ones.
‘You can’t just go on the dark web and say, ”show me a snuff site or someone being tortured or beheaded,” or whatever it is you fancy, she would have had to have been told (where to go).
‘Red rooms are where blood is involved, where people are being tortured and either killed or abused physically, where people draw blood.
‘They won’t stumble across them, you can’t accidentally find them.
‘The dangerous and scary bit is that you need only to express the tiniest interest, which may be misunderstood by the algorithm, but they slowly get pushed together.
The jury was told that Girl X downloaded an ‘onion browser’ six months before Brianna’s murder which allowed her to access and watch videos of people being murdered and tortured
READ MORE – Two torture-obsessed teenagers are found guilty of murdering Brianna Ghey
‘These sites can be anywhere in the world, it’s very difficult to trace them. Something like a red room, or a torture room, can involve static imagery but sometimes it can also involve live streaming and those are very difficult to get to.’
Prof Woodward said that, because these sites were difficult to find, they are also difficult for the police and other authorities to trace and close down.
‘Because they pop up and down you have to be very patient and try lots of things out in order to track them,’ he added.
‘This isn’t like on the ordinary web, where you go onto Google to find them. You have to go searching and when you search you find other people who direct you. One site will quite often direct you to another, so the more you use it (the dark web) the more you know.’
READ MORE – Detectives fear killers could have struck again
Prof Woodward said downloading onion browsers was not illegal and there is nothing to stop young people legitimately downloading them to access the dark web.
But Detective Superintendent Mike Evans, head of Cheshire CID who investigated the case, urged parents to talk to their children to understand what they were looking at ‘when they shut the bedroom door.’
Referring to Girl X and Boy Y, he said: ‘These were two very warped individuals to have done what they have done.
‘It needs a certain level of intelligence to access the dark web and I know as a parent the need to know what a child does when they shut the bedroom door.
‘There is a bit for all of us around internet safety and web awareness.’
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