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Teenager guilty of killing Bailey Gwynne in 'trivial' school dispute

Published 07/03/2016

A teenager who stabbed a school boy to death during a "trivial" row has been convicted of culpable homicide.

Bailey Gwynne, 16, died from a knife wound to the chest in a fight at Cults Academy in Aberdeen on October 28 last year.

A 16-year-old youth, who cannot be named for legal reasons, admitted fatally stabbing Bailey but had denied murder.

A jury at the city's High Court took less than two hours to convict him of the lesser charge of culpable homicide after a five-day trial.

The killer was also found guilty of two other charges of having a knife and knuckledusters at the school.

He is being held in custody and will be sentenced at the High Court in Edinburgh on April 1.

There was audible sobbing in court after the verdict was delivered, and the room was told two families had been destroyed by October's events.

Emotions were high during the trial, which saw a teenage witness break down as he gave details of the fight and the accused himself start crying at one stage.

During evidence, it emerged that Bailey - a hard-working fifth year pupil with four young brothers - suffered a major loss of blood after receiving the single stab wound to the heart.

The court heard that on the day he was stabbed, Bailey had missed out on a lunchtime trip to the local supermarket as his friends forgot to tell him about the plan.

He was in a corridor with a group of boys and, after refusing a second biscuit to one, made a remark about him getting fatter.

Accounts of the fight differed between witnesses but the jury heard that Bailey, who was on his way out of the corridor, turned round and squared up to the youth after he made a comment about his mother.

They both were said to have thrown punches and two onlookers said Bailey had him in a headlock before he pulled out a knife.

A post-mortem examination revealed he died as a result of a "penetrating stab-force injury to the chest" which went directly into the heart.

The killer told police as he was handcuffed "it was just a moment of anger".

He later told officers: "I didn't mean to but I stabbed him."

The jury heard from a friend of the accused that he had shown him a knife a day or two before the fatal incident and the teenager "thought it was something cool to have".

In his speech to the jury, prosecutor Alex Prentice QC described the row as a "silly, trivial fight between two school boys" but told the jury: "Bailey Gwynne had no chance."

But defence QC Ian Duguid said the case centred around an incident which happened "in the blink of an eye" within 30 seconds.

Once the verdict was delivered, judge Lady Stacey told the killer: "You have been convicted of a very serious charge."

She deferred sentencing to allow for the preparation of background reports.

Mr Prentice told her the teenager's lawyer contacted the Crown two days after the incident to indicate that he wanted to plead guilty to culpable homicide. But the Crown decided that was "not acceptable" at the time and the plea was rejected.

Mr Duguid said: "There are two families that have been destroyed by these events."

Bailey's family left court without commenting.

Aberdeen City Council has announced it is to hold a review of Bailey's death to "identify any lessons that can be learnt to inform future practice".

Detective Superintendent David McLaren, lead officer for the north area of Police Scotland's major investigation team, thanked the pupils and staff at Cults Academy who tried to save Bailey.

He said: "The death of Bailey Gwynne has had a massive impact on his family, friends, fellow pupils and staff at Cults Academy.

"The details of the case have caused shock within the local community and further afield across the whole of the country."

He also paid tribute to Bailey's family, and said: "Today won't bring their son back, the pain of not having Bailey around will last for a very long time."

Gayle Gorman, director of education and children's services at Aberdeen City Council, said: "Bailey Gwynne should never have died in this way. He was a 16-year-old boy with his whole life in front of him. We will not forget him.

"The trial may have ended but for those involved, the process of moving forward now begins."

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