An incestuous mother who murdered two of her own children pretended they had been fathered during a one-night stand – instead of admitting her own brother was responsible for their conception, it has emerged.
Sarah Barrass, 35, and Brandon Machin, 39, were jailed for 35 years on Tuesday for strangling their son Tristan, 13, in front of 14-year-old Blake before killing him as social services edged toward rescuing them from their chaotic home life in Sheffield.
After the 12-minute murder spree they attempted to drown a third child in the bath and planned to kill the other three using drugs overdoses, two of whom were under three years of age, but Barrass then called the police.
It has now emerged that Barrass had a carefully constructed back story to mask the shocking truth she was in love with her brother and that he had fathered her six children.
Sarah Barrass and her half-brother Brandon Machin have been jailed for life for murdering two of their sons and trying to kill four of their other children and began having sex as teenagers after Machin was taken from their mother into care
Barrass moved into the property in Sheffield (pictured) and pretended to residents that she was a single mother who was being helped out with childcare by her brother, Brendon. Neighbours suspected they were a couple when they heard the children call him ‘dad’
Tristan (left) and his brother Blake (right) were murdered by their mother and her half-brother Brandon Machin – after Blake was made to watch
A friend told The Sun Online that the mother would keep Machin’s identity a secret by pretending she had met him online and that she would sneak him back home to have sex and father the children.
The friend said: ‘She came around and told me she was pregnant.
‘It was totally out of the blue – she said she had been emailing and texting him then invited him over after 9pm to have sex and he left.
‘I asked why the dad didn’t have anything to do with the kids and she said it wasn’t that kind of arrangement.’
The friend claimed that Barrass grew suspicious when she asked too many questions about the father’s identity and so they fell out of touch.
The horrific case raise major questions about who knew the truth about their relationship and how they kept an illegal sexual relationship secret despite being on the radar of social services since the 1990s.
Martyn Barrass, their younger brothers, says they were evil from birth and would kill pets for fun and shared a morbid fascination with horror films
On Wednesday, the couple’s younger brother Martyn – who shares the same mother – said they were ‘evil from birth’ and would love stamping on pet mice together as children and bingeing on gory horror films such as Nightmare on Elm Street.
Martyn, who spoke to social services 10 years before the boys’ murder, said: ‘Those two have been evil since birth. They are both as bad as each other, they are both murdering, evil psychopaths’.
He added: ‘They loved killing things and inflicting pain. We had mice. I walked in and Brandon and Sarah were laughing, chasing the mice – stamping on them, killing them. I tried to push them away but they were too strong’.
The couple were separated as teenagers when Machin was taken away from their mother aged 14 – but began having sex when he left the care system when Barrass was around 16.
They maintained a long-term relationship spanning almost 20 years and producing six ‘planned’ children, who were told he was an attentive uncle and forced to accept the extraordinary claim a fictitious father was a hero who died fighting in the Second World War more than 70 years ago.
Barrass and Machin had three other half-siblings, who shared the same mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, but had different fathers, and initially grew up together in Sheffield.
Blake Barrass (pictured) and his brother were found dying in their beds from a sustained attack
A family friend said today: ‘Blake and Tristan were two beautiful, confident and outgoing boys who both had a bright future ahead of them’
Their younger brother Martyn appears to be the only close relative to leave Sheffield, living with his partner and twins on Merseyside. Their younger sister Donna died tragically aged 19. Another sister still lives in the Steel City.
Martyn spoke to social services about the safety of his sister’s children – but it is not known if he raised any concerns about the relationship.
He told the Mirror: ‘I witnessed Brandon’s violence towards Blake years ago and I knew something wasn’t right. I visited them when Tristan was still in his pushchair and Blake was only a toddler – he must have been three or four.
‘We were out walking when Brandon grabbed Blake’s arm really roughly and dragged him across the floor.
‘It was enough to know something wasn’t right, so I called social services and asked them to look into it. If they had, the boys might still be here today’.
Their mother, who still lives in Sheffield, cannot be named to avoid identifying their surviving children.
A timeline of Sarah Barrass and Brandon Machin’s murder plot
Sarah Barrass and Brandon Machin both pleaded guilty to murder today, below is a timeline of how their plot unfolded.
May 14 and May 20: According to the charges, the pair discussed and plotted the murders over six days
May 24: Ten days after first devising their plot, the pair kill Tristan and Blake Barrass
July: An inquest into the death of the two children was opened and adjourned
August 8: The two boys are remembered at the Grenoside Crematorium
September 27: Barrass and Machin plead guilty to murder and conspiracy to murder
November 12: Incestuous couple jailed for life and will each serve a minimum of 35 years
Her Facebook page has also been flooded with abusive messages from people suggesting she bears some responsibility because of their childhood she gave her own children.
But some were taken into care and others stayed with the mum in dysfunctional circumstances raised in court by their legal team.
The illicit couple would binge-watch horror films together and revelled in the gore.
Just ten months before she committed the heinous crimes, Barrass made chilling posts on Facebook about murder.
She posted a quote from a Stephen King novel which read: ‘Murder is like potato chips; You can’t stop with just one’.
She also shared a grizzly Grim Reaper photo with the caption: ‘Coming for you’.
Barrass plotted to kill her children as threat loomed of them being taken into care because of their home like.
Neighbours on Wednesday that people in the street knew of the relationship taking place under the noses of Sheffield City Council, who has launched a serious case review.
One told MailOnline: ‘When Sarah first moved into the house she only had the four eldest children and Brandon appeared on the scene straight away.
‘She was at pains to point out to everyone that she was a single mother and had four kids to look after and introduced him to everyone as her brother.
‘That was accepted at first even though it seemed strange he spent so much time at the house with her and the kids when there didn’t seem to be any need for him to be there.
‘She had two more children and yet there was no sign of a father and no explanation for how the little ones came to be conceived. The only man who was ever seen at the house was her brother.
‘My suspicions really started when I would watch him leave the house and shout goodbye, he’d see them in the morning.
‘I’m a light sleeper and would notice that a while after leaving he’d come back when it was dark having walked around the block. He was sneaking back in when he thought no one would see.
‘It seemed really strange and I didn’t know what to think. Your mind looks for answers but they’re too strange to dwell on.
‘Then after the younger children were born and could talk they’d slip up and call him “Dad.”
‘I heard it once when the children were leaving the house to go somewhere and I heard a little voice call ‘bye Mum, bye Dad.’ One of the older children shushed the young one and said not to say that.
‘It confirmed to me at least that something was off, but I don’t think anyone could really have imagined the situation that was going on in there.’
Barrass had previously posted these sick messages on her Facebook page including this Stephen King quote revelling in murder
She’d also posted this post on her Facebook page. Even her own barrister admitted her actions were ‘evil and nothing but evil’
This was the scene outside the family home following the killings earlier this year
Machin’s flat on the city’s Burngreave Road is a 13 minute drive away from Barrass’s semi.
Barrass and Machin grew up in a chaotic household where their had a number of partners, some of whom abused Barrass, the court was told.
The children were dirty, dishevelled and had skin ailments such as dermatitis from living in squalid conditions and there being not enough beds for all the family to sleep on.
People in the street of three bedroom semis, close to a primary school, are reeling at the details revealed at Sheffield Crown Court on Tuesday.
Another neighbour said: ‘The house is boarded up and a constant reminder about what happened to those poor children, ideally it should be pulled down, no one will ever want to live there.’
Barrass and her sister would sleep on sofas in rooms soiled by dog faeces.
A former neighbour at the house, also in Shiregreen, recalled the horrific conditions Machin and Barrass were brought up in, saying: ‘There was s*** all over, literally s*** and the children would be left all day without food.’
Barrass was in a long-term relationship with her half-brother Brandon Machin, 39, who was the father of all six children.
Barrass and Machin admitted multiple murder, conspiracy to murder and attempted murder charges in September.
At Sheffield Crown Court on Tuesday they were jailed for life with a minimum of 35 years.