A jury has heard of spooky internet searches found on a laptop computer belonging to a student accused of murdering his stepmother in a house fire in Heysham.
Mary Gregory, 94, died after a fire ravaged her two-bedroom bungalow on Levens Drive in the early hours of May 28, 2018.
Tiernan Darnton, now 21, who was widely regarded as her grandson, is charged with her murder after allegedly confessing to the murders in a Truth or Dare game.
Read more: Teenager accused of murder “confessed to killing nan” in Truth or Dare game
But Darnton, of Heaton Road, Lancaster, denies murder and manslaughter, after telling police he was seeking attention when he made the revelations.
A timeline of evidence read by Prosecutor David McLaughlin QC detailed the following:
On Wednesday, May 29, 2019, Darnton was arrested on suspicion of murder after Councilor Ruth Quinn told police he revealed the murder during a therapy session.
Police seized her laptop and cell phone and found a number of Google searches conducted in the days before and months following Ms Gregory’s death.
On Friday April 13, 2018, a search was made on Darnton’s email account: “Murder under 18”.
At the time, the defendant was 17 years old.
On the same day, prosecutors said there was also a search asking, “How long do the murderers stay in jail?”
Preston Crown Court learned that Darnton was a regular visitor to the bungalow where Ms Gregory, a heavy smoker with dementia, lived independently.
The caregivers visited her daily and took notes on Ms. Gregory’s well-being.
According to the prosecution, on May 27, the caregivers’ diaries indicated that Ms Gregory was fine, but that she was annoyed by “the boy” because she was referring to Darnton, and had argued with him.
She said she was afraid to let people into her home and was upset that her son Chris Gregory, Darnton’s stepfather, had not been in touch.
However, Mr Gregory was absent at a music festival in Scotland, the court said.
At around 4 a.m. the next morning, neighbors sounded the alarm after seeing flames coming out of the window of Ms Gregory’s house.
Firefighters forced entry to the property and rescued Smoke-flooded Ms Gregory from the lanai.
She was taken to the Lancaster Royal Infirmary but died three days later.
Mr McLaughin QC said on May 30 that searches for Darnton’s laptop included: “Heysham house fire” and “lancsfirerescue.org.uk”.
Another research that evening asked, “Can people with autism go to jail?”
And: ‘Murderous campaign. I want to cause harm.
In the week following Ms Gregory’s death, the prosecutor said the laptop’s web history included: “Murderer filled with despair”, “I am a murderer” and “I am a monster, I will in hell”.
On June 9, research indicated, “Are homicidal thoughts and anger symptoms of severe depression?” and ‘I think I could become a serial killer. Please help me’
In July, there was research related to schizophrenia and suicide, in addition to serial killers who suffered from mental illness.
This month Darnton was prescribed diazepam after a visit to his GP, the court said.
On Wednesday, August 22, searches for the email account included: “Can God forgive serial killers”, “killers remorse” and “feeling guilty for putting a loved one out of misery” .
On May 5, 2019, four days before Darnton told Ms Quinn he had killed someone, a web search was done on his laptop: “Mental health support for murderers,” said the ‘charge.
Attorney David McLaughlin QC said: “The prosecution says ‘here it is’. From his own mouth came these words. I am a murderer. ‘
The case continues.
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