Sunderland killer who stabbed his lover to death after seeing sex chat facing life sentence for murder

A killer who stabbed his lover to death at his student flat after he saw sex chat on his phone with other men is facing life behind bars for murder.
Watch more of our videos on Shots!
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Jason Brockbanks' body was found in his shower cubicle at the Mansion Tyne accommodation in Newcastle, three days after he was killed by Aaron Ray in September 2022.

The deadly attack happened after Ray took a video of himself scrolling through Mr Brockbanks' phone screen, which showed a series of Grindr messages.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Ray, 21, of Mayfield Road, Sunderland, denied the murder of Mr Brockbanks, 24, who was from Whitehaven, Cumbria, and was a third-year student at Northumbria University.

Aaron Ray.Aaron Ray.
Aaron Ray.

Ray, a former student who quit university as he did not like online learning during the pandemic, has been convicted of murder by a jury after a trial at Newcastle Crown Court.

Jurors deliberated for just over an hour before they delivered the unanimous verdict, and Ray will be sentenced on Thursday.

Mr Justice Spencer has told the court: "By law the only sentence is life imprisonment."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Prosecutor David Lamb KC told the court the men had been out in Newcastle together and returned to Mr Brockbanks student flat in the city in the early hours of September 24.

Police tape outside the building after the body was found.Police tape outside the building after the body was found.
Police tape outside the building after the body was found.

Mr Lamb told jurors: "The prosecution case is that while the two men were inside Jason's flat this defendant videoed himself, using his own mobile telephone in the ensuite bathroom, scrolling through Jason Brockbanks' mobile telephone and recording messages that Jason had exchanged with other men.

"We suggest it was that scrolling and the realisation that Jason was sexually interested in other males that was the trigger and motivating factor for the stabbing and ultimately this murder."

Jurors were shown extracts of the messages that were seen on the phone by Ray just before the killing.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The court heard after the stabbing, Ray took the knife he had used in the killing back into the communal kitchen then left the accommodation, walked to Newcastle Central Station and got a taxi from there to Sunderland.

Three days later, on September 27, the university student accommodation manger received an email asking if she could check on Mr Brockbanks' welfare, as his parents had become concerned.

Mr Lamb told jurors how she found the body.

He said: "She went to Jason's door and knocked on it. She received no response so she used her master key to enter the room.

"She went inside and she saw that the television was turned on, the bed appeared unmade and there was staining to the bedclothes and the floor carpet.

"She saw a handprint in blood on the doorframe to the ensuite bathroom and on opening that ensuite bathroom door she saw Jason Brockbanks slumped in the shower cubicle, with his legs protruding outside.

"He was very obviously dead."

A postmortem examination showed Mr Brockbanks had a stab wound to his right abdomen, which was fatal, and two knife injuries to his back.

A forensic investigation concluded Mr Brockbanks may have been on his bed at the time he was attacked but had been capable of moving around afterwards and may have survived if he had had medical attention.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Ray was arrested on September 29 and admitted he and Mr Brockbanks had been involved in a violent struggle but said he did not realise he had killed him.

Ray said he and Mr Brockbanks had been together for around three months and had met on dating app Grindr.

He told police an argument had started after he saw an explicit Grindr notification on Mr Brockbanks' phone, when he thought they were "exclusive", while they were on the bed.