The city was left in a state of shock and utter disbelief after learning that ‘beautiful boys’ Tristan, 13, and Blake Barrass, 14 had been murdered at a house in Gregg House Road, Shiregreen on May 24 this year.
The case took another devastating turn when their mother, Barrass, 35, was charged with their murder.
Wearing an off-the-shoulder black dress with pink flowers, Barrass, of Gregg House Road, Shiregreen sobbed as she pleaded guilty during this morning’s hearing to all eight charges she faces, including the murders of Blake and Tristan.
She became particularly emotional when the first murder charge was read out, which she admitted as she tried to fight back tears.
This was in stark contrast to the behaviour of her co-accused, Brandon Machin, of Burngreave Road, Burngreave who was completely emotionless as he pleaded guilty to murdering the two boys, during the 35-minute hearing.
Machin, who attended the hearing wearing a brown t-shirt and black trousers, is a relative of Barrass and her six children.
The pair also pleaded guilty to six additional charges, including one of conspiracy to murder, which was committed against all six of Barrass’ children.
After their pleas were entered, The Recorder of Sheffield, Judge Jeremy Richardson QC, told the murderous duo that they may be given a ‘whole life order’ when they are sentenced on November 12 by Mr Justice Goss.
“I have little doubt that each of you, in due course, will be sentenced to several terms of life imprisonment. This may be a case, and it’s a matter for the sentencing judge, where a whole life order is imposed,” said Judge Richardson.
A whole life order means an inmate will never be given the opportunity to apply for parole, and will therefore die in custody.
There are currently only 75 inmates serving whole life sentences in the United Kingdom. This includes The Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe.
Judge Richardson added: “No words of mine can ever fully reflect the enormity of what you have both done. The crimes you have committed, quite frankly, speak for themselves.
“The murder of two children.
“The attempted murder of four children and the over-arching conspiracy to murder those children.”
The conspiracy to murder charge, which was committed between May 14 and May 20 this year, relates to Blake and Tristan and to four more of Barrass’ children, all of whom are under the age of 13.
The five attempted murder charges concern Blake, Tristan and two more of Barrass’ children.
There is a reporting restriction in place which prohibits the press and public from publishing the names and specific ages of Barrass’ four surviving children.
During the hearing, Barrass and Machin were separated by three security guards, who sat between the pair throughout.
Judge Richardson remanded the pair into custody until their sentencing date.
They did not utter a word as they were escorted out of the court to be taken back to prison.
The details of Brandon and Tristan’s cause of death have never been released by police or mentioned in court.
Neither have the events that took place in the house in the days leading up to Blake and Tristan’s tragic deaths.
Information provided by South Yorkshire Police following the boys’ deaths on May 24 stated that officers arrived at the house in Gregg House Road at around 7.30am, after receiving ‘reports of concerns for safety’.
The force confirmed the incident was confined to one property, and said they were not looking for anyone in connection with the incident.
Multiple police cars and ambulances were dispatched to the scene, and an air ambulance landed in the grounds of Hartley Brook Primary Academy nearby as efforts were made to save Blake and Tristan, but the tragic boys lost their fight for life in hospital.
Detectives were also forced to rule out reports of a shooting, following widespread speculation about the circumstances that had led to such a huge response from the emergency services.
Speaking after the hearing, a spokesman for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) said: “Every child deserves a safe and loving childhood - but Blake and Tristan were tragically denied that by Barrass and Machin’s devastating crimes.
“Children look to adults in their lives for love and support, and it is everyone’s responsibility to raise concerns about their safety or wellbeing.
Adults can call the NSPCC Helpline in confidence on 0808 8000 5000 and speak to trained advisors.
“Childline is there for young people 24/7 on 0800 1111.”
‘Two beautiful boys who touched the lives of everyone they knew’
Tragic Blake and Tristan Barrass were finally laid to rest in August this year - three months after they were murdered by their mother and family member in May.
Blake and Tristan - aged 14 and 13 respectively - were laid to rest in the sunshine of Grenoside Crematorium on August 8 at a service attended by hundreds of mourners.
The cortege was led into the grounds by 300 bikers and two Lamborghinis, reflecting the boys’ love of fast cars and motorcycles, before their single coffin was carried into the chapel to Ed Sheeran’s Thinking of You.
Grenoside Crematorium Vicar Lisa Scott described Blake as a boy who really loved his football, wore his heart on his sleeve and always made people feel loved.
Tristan on the other hand wanted to be different, she said.Mischievous and lovable, his multi-coloured hair got him in trouble with his teachers, but he would always make you smile.
Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth’s See You Again was played before Blake and Tristan’s family and friends paid tribute to them in a service rich with emotion.
Family friend Danielle Baines said Blake and Tristan were ‘two beautiful boys who touched the lives of everyone they knew’.
She said: “Blake had a natural ability to make everyone smile even if they were having a bad day. He cared about everyone and he had such a big heart. Tristan was brave and knew exactly who he was. He did what he wanted to do no matter what anyone thought. And he loved to express himself through his clothes.”
“Both of them were amazing and I can’t describe how proud I was of them. I think that is how we should remember them.”
Another family friend, Matthew Saunders, said: “I have been trying to process everything that has happened. Trying to make sense of something that will never make sense.”