A mother from Sheffield who murdered her two teenage sons was “evil from birth” but could have been stopped if social workers had acted upon concerns first raised a decade ago, her brother has claimed.
Martyn Barrass, the 34-year old uncle of the murdered children, described his sister Sarah Barrass as an “evil psychopath” who has held a lifelong attraction to grotesque and gruesome spectacles.
Sarah Barrass and her relative Brandon Machin, 39, were said to have watched endless horror movies, killed pet mice and eventually focused their brutality on Barrass’ own sons Tristan, 13, and Blake, 14; strangling the pair to death in their home in May 2019.
The pair have pleaded guilty to murdering both boys and are due to be sentenced tomorrow, on the 12th November 2019. They have been warned to expect life sentences.
Now her brother Martyn, who lives in Merseyside, says the boy’s deaths could have been prevented if social workers had acted upon his warnings.
Speaking exclusively to the Sunday Mirror, Martyn said: “Those two (Sarah Barrass and Brandon Machin) have been evil since birth. They are both as bad as each other, they are both murdering, evil psychopaths”
“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”
Martyn told the Sunday Mirror how he made three telephone calls to children’s services in 2009 or 2010 in order to raise these concerns but says he felt ignored as his concerns weren’t acted upon.
“It was three phone calls. I told them about the incident. I was told they would look into it, but I didn’t hear back from them. I feel like I was ignored. It felt like I wasn’t listened to”
In one disturbing memory he remembers his sister and Machin killing pet mice simply for their own entertainment; how he saw the pair chasing the mice and stamping on them, laughing as the pets died one by one.
“They loved killing things and inflicting pain. We had mice, tiny little black and white things. One day I heard my sister, Donna – who has since died – screaming and crying.
“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.
“They were falling over laughing while we were in floods of tears looking at the little bodies on the floor. Another time we were playing, and Sarah shoved a girl out of a tree”
“She pushed her really hard and the girl screamed as she hit the floor, badly hurting her arm”
“Sarah just stood over her laughing – she thought it was really funny. I knew from when they killed the mice that they were evil”
“I knew Sarah wasn’t normal when she laughed after pushing the girl from the tree. I knew Brandon was capable of murder and I knew she was. But I never thought she’d kill her own kids”
Martyn is one of eight siblings – by four different fathers – who were raised by a single mother in Sheffield, South Yorkshire.
He told the Sunday Mirror how he and his siblings spent time in care before being returned home.
He went on to describe life in the home growing up: “It was chaotic, there were always people in and out, drinking, smoking weed. We could go to bed when we wanted, get up when we wanted, not go to school.”
Martyn says his sister was quiet, shy and protective until falling under the influence of Machin.
He says: “Once her and Brandon got close, she changed. She became a bully. As soon as he came, there was a bond”
“They would always be together and were thick as thieves. Brandon once beat someone up at school for no reason – just to impress Sarah”
“Brandon would torment me. One day at the park Brandon called me over, turned me upside down and rammed me headfirst into the floor”
“He terrified me. He was violent and would punch people for no reason and get into fights. Sarah was his sidekick; they were always whispering together.”
Martyn revealed in his interview how his sister and Machin “loved horror movies with vampires, blood and gore”, adding: “They liked violent killer Freddy Krueger and repeatedly watched A Nightmare on Elm Street.”
In the months before she went on to murder two of her children, Sarah posted a Facebook quote from Stephen King that said: “Murder is like potato chips; you can’t stop with just one.”
She also uploaded a chilling image of the Grim Reaper with the caption “coming for you”
It is claimed that Sarah Barrass tried to poison four of her six children the day before Tristan and Blake were murdered, and that an attempt to drown another child is also said to have failed.
On the day of the two boys’ deaths the other four children in the home, who are all under the age of 13, were taken to hospital and released later that day.
Barrass and Machin have already admitted two counts of murder, five counts of attempted murder and one count of conspiracy to murder when they appeared at Sheffield Crown Court on September 27th, 2019. They will be sentenced tomorrow, on November 12th, 2019.
Meanwhile, a serious case review is to be held into the deaths of Tristan and Blake.
John Macilwraith, Executive Director of People Services at Sheffield City Council, told the press that: “We have initiated the review but detailed work will start once the legal process has completed. It is important we do not compromise any court proceedings.”
Councillor Jackie Drayton added how the review would be commissioned by the Local Safeguarding Children Board, detailing that: “All partners will be coming together to understand, review and reflect on exactly what happened and why.”
Martyn said that when he heard Barrass and Machin had been arrested and charged he felt “disgusted” and that “Blake and Tristan were polite, kind-hearted lads. It’s a tragic waste of life.”
He says that he will never understand how his warnings went unheeded.
“Social services have been aware of our family since before Sarah had kids. They don’t seem to have done the job they could have done or should have done. That’s what I’m struggling to understand”
“The main people to blame are Sarah and Brandon. But social services could have prevented it, could have stopped it. This will haunt us forever.”