A 16-year-old girl who stabbed a school welfare officer, leaving her seriously injured, has been given a seven-year custodial sentence by a judge who said she would probably have killed her victim if she had not been restrained.
Elisha Burkill attacked inclusion support officer Joy Simon, 61, in an office at Winterton Community Academy, near Scunthorpe, in September last year.
Judge Jeremy Richardson QC, sitting at Hull Crown Court, told the teenager: “I have no doubt that if you had not been restrained … you would have, in all likelihood, killed Mrs Simon. You very nearly did.”
The judge heard how Burkill came “flying” into Mrs Simon’s office on September 25 and stabbed her a number of times, repeatedly slamming the door as the support worker tried to escape.
He also heard how the attack came as a complete shock to the school and the teenager’s family, as Burkill was seen as a model, high-achieving pupil.
But the court also heard how Burkill was suffering from a serious depressive illness which she had hidden from her family.
The teenager showed no emotion as she was sentenced.
Judge Richardson gave Burkill an extended sentence due to her dangerousness, which added a five-year licence period to her custodial time.
The judge outlined how Mrs Simon suffered three stab wounds – one to her chest, one to her armpit and another which went straight through her cheek and has still not properly healed.
He said she lost 30% of her blood and her internal injuries were “an immediate threat to her life”.
The praised the efforts of staff who came to the support worker’s aid, including cleaner and lunchtime supervisor Kerry Ogg and teacher Mark Florence.
The judge said: “The attack was executed with ferocious but utterly unemotional zeal and determination.”
Judge Richardson said Burkill, who lived close to Mrs Simon, had singled out her victim for the “sustained and brutal” attack out of a “complete misapprehension” of her role.
The court heard how pupils had told Mrs Simon that Burkill was self harming and the inclusion officer had passed this on to other staff as she felt it was difficult to engage with someone who lived so close to her.
The judge said this was misinterpreted by the defendant as someone who should have been helping her doing nothing.
He said the attack was clearly pre-planned as she brought the three-inch long knife to school and also deliberately deleted all her social media use in an attempt to conceal evidence from any subsequent investigation.
Judge Richardson heard how she came from a “decent family” and he said to her: “I am afraid it is you who has visited this nightmare upon them.”
Diana Ellis QC, defending, told the judge: “Elisha has accepted full responsibility for her actions and has expressed remorse.”
Miss Ellis said: “The knowledge of what she did will remain with her and haunt her. Mrs Simon’s life has been disrupted.
“So has that of Elisha and her family and they have been left shocked and stunned by the events of that day.”
Miss Ellis said her client was suffering from a “serious depressive illness” which she had been hiding from her family for some time.
The barrister told the court her father had described her as “someone who wouldn’t hurt a fly”.
She said: “For the parents she was a model child. She gave no cause for worry or concerns.”
But Miss Ellis said that although her father had been told by the school about some self-harming, neither of her parents was aware of her deteriorating mental health.
She said her teachers described her an “ideal pupil” who was high achieving.
After her arrest, the barrister told the court, handwritten notes were found in the Elisha’s room which she said included “repeated references to sadness, her misery, her feelings of fear and she feared her return to school”.
The notes were not read at the hearing on Friday but on a previous hearing, when Elisha first appeared before magistrates, the court was told one note said she would “go out with a bang in Year 11” and another said: “I’m not scared about giving up anymore. It’s already happened. Giving up is an opportunity and now I will take it. Take. Take Take.”
Miss Ellis said: “She didn’t want to be alone. She wanted help for the way she felt.”
She said: “It was the ultimate call to attention of conditions for which she is now, happily, receiving treatment.”
Burkill admitted wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and possession of a bladed article in a school at a previous hearing.
A charge of attempted murder was dropped.