Murderer who stabbed boyfriend to death over Grindr messages jailed for life

Murderer Aaron Jay

A British man who stabbed his boyfriend to death after reading messages to other men on the app Grindr has been jailed for life. 

Aaron Ray, 21, was found guilty of the murder of Northumbria University student Jason Brockbanks and on Thursday (23 March), handed a life sentence.

Ray brutally stabbed Jason Brockbanks, 24, in his bed on 24 September 2022. Brockbanks was found dead in his Newcastle student accommodation three days later. 

Ray found Brockbanks was receiving messages from other men asking to meet on Grindr. The Northern Echo reported that Ray had filmed himself scrolling Brockbanks’ phone just minutes before he fatally stabbed his partner and was seen on CCTV leaving the student flat. 

Newcastle Crown Court heard that if Brockbanks had received medical assistance, he may have survived. Justice Martin Spencer told Ray: “I find, when he was attacked, Jason was asleep under his duvet, defenceless and in no position to defend himself against your attack.

“You have shown no remorse for your actions. You didn’t call the emergency services to help Jason.

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“He was bleeding profusely from the wounds, blood soaked through his duvet and sheet.”

The trial took seven days, with the jury delivering a unanimous guilty verdict after just over 90 minutes of deliberation. Ray must serve 22 years of his life sentence.

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‘Deceitful, dishonest and when drunk, highly dangerous’

Justice Spencer described Ray as “deceitful, dishonest and when drunk, highly dangerous” and cited evidence that demonstrated “possessive, jealous and violent” tendencies in previous relationships. 

The judge ruled that Brockbanks had, in all likelihood, fallen asleep when the pair returned to Brockbanks’ flat after a night out in Newcastle’s ‘Pink Triangle’. The dynamic of a happy night out is believe to have changed when Ray accused Brockbanks of receiving receiving messages on Grindr from other men.

As they returned to the Mansion Tyne flat, Ray was seen on CCTV angrily kick Brockbanks “hard on his left knee”, before taking his keycard and leading the way up to the fourth floor.

Ray then recorded himself scrolling Brockbanks’ phone, took a knife from the communal kitchen and stabbed his boyfriend in the back and side while he lay defenceless in bed. 

Brockbanks’ body was discovered by accommodation staff three days later, after his worried parents had requested a welfare check on their son. The staff member found Brockbanks collapsed in the ensuite shower cubicle. 

Brockbanks sustained three stab wounds, two to his back and one to his torso on the right side, above the hip. It is believed that it took nearly an hour for him to die. 

Ray claimed that Brockbanks became angry when Ray accused him of being unfaithful, and told police officers that he grabbed a knife in self-defence. He admitted stabbing Brockbanks but said he didn’t know how severe the injuries were. 

His claims were disputed by prosecutors, with previous boyfriends of Ray testifying that he had displayed angry and abusive behaviour over perceived infidelity. They said he had also accessed their phones. 

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Chronicle Live reported that Aaron Ray had a history of violence, after being convicted of stabbing a pet bird at age 18. Ray received a 12-week prison sentence, suspended for a year, and a 15-year ban on keeping animals.

Ray told police officers: “It’s just a bird, it’s not a crime.”

‘The pain we feel will never leave us’

In his sentencing remarks, Justice Spencer quoted Jason Brockbanks’ parents, who described him as “a loving, kind, gentle soul who shied away from confrontation and who hated violence”.

“We all miss his laughter, his infectious smile and his company. There is a void in our lives that can never be filled and the pain we feel will never leave us. 

“Every Christmas Day, birthday, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day brings an influx of so many emotions that cannot be truly comprehended if you have not experienced the pain of losing a child. We miss Jason so very much.”

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