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Teacher murder inquiry launched

An inquiry has been launched into the circumstances surrounding the murder of teacher Ann Maguire.

Agencies in Leeds will work with Corpus Christi Catholic College to try to discover how 15-year-old schoolboy Will Cornick came to fatally stab Mrs Maguire as she taught a Spanish class in April this year.

Cornick, who is now 16, was handed a life sentence with a minimum term of 20 years after he pleaded guilty to Mrs Maguire's murder at Leeds Crown Court yesterday.

Mr Justice Coulson told the boy that he may never be released.

The Leeds Safeguarding Children Board said it will now investigate the incident with the school and other agencies.

Jane Held, independent chair of the Leeds Safeguarding Children Board, said: "Our thoughts and deepest sympathies remain with all those affected by this tragic event.

"Following this unprecedented incident, the members of the Leeds Safeguarding Children Board have already agreed to work with the school and other agencies, to look into the circumstances surrounding the incident, and help with the learning for all agencies involved."

The Leeds Safeguarding Children Board is made up of all agencies who have responsibility for children in Leeds, including Leeds City Council, West Yorkshire Police and health services.

Speaking after yesterday's sentencing, agencies said the attack was unprecedented and not an indication of a larger problem in the area.

The court heard that Cornick's plans to kill Mrs Maguire could not have been foreseen.

Chief Superintendent Paul Money, of West Yorkshire Police, said: "The murder of Ann Maguire, in school and at the hands of one of her pupils during a lesson, was a shocking and unprecedented incident.

"We welcome the conviction of the person responsible who planned and then carried out this cold-blooded, brutal and cowardly attack. His motive was seemingly an inexplicable hatred for Ann, who was simply carrying out her public duty - a duty she considered to be more of a vocation than a job.

"There was no absolutely no justification for this hatred. He came from a good home, with decent and responsible parents, who are, in their own way, victims of his terrible act."

He added: "The extreme circumstances of the incident understandably attracted a large amount of public and media interest which put a significant focus on the school, the local community of Halton Moor and our city. It also brought attention to the issue of safety in schools at a local and national level.

"In no way do I seek to lessen the appalling nature of the circumstances surrounding this incident but it is accurate to say that, thankfully, this is an isolated occurrence and should not be seen as an indicator of any wider serious violent crime issues within Corpus Christi College or any other schools in Leeds."

Headteacher Steve Mort also described the attack as "shocking and unprecedented".

Nigel Richardson, Leeds City Council director of services, said: "I feel I must reiterate what others have said repeatedly today - that this was an isolated and unprecedented incident and it is not in any way indicative of a wider problem in this school or in other schools across the region."

During the court hearing, p rosecutor Paul Greaney QC told the court there was nothing to indicate a risk of "homicidal violence" to Cornick's parents or teachers.

Cornick was a high-achieving pupil who had never been convicted of a criminal offence and had only five recorded incidents of misbehaviour at school.

At home, the only apparent issues were incidents of self-harming and minor stealing after he was diagnosed with diabetes when he was 12 and he discovered it would bar him from his intended career in the army.

But, Mr Greaney said, in the months before the murder, Cornick told other children that he hated Mrs Maguire and wanted her dead in messages sent on Facebook.

His father said he made plain "that he hated Mrs Maguire" after disciplinary procedures that resulted in him being placed in internal exclusion at school.

Mr Greaney said Cornick told other pupils he was going to attack Mrs Maguire on the morning of the murder and showed some of them the knives he had with him.

Police later found many pictures of knives on his mobile phone.

When assessed by psychiatrists after the murder, he was found to have "an adjustment disorder with psychopathic tendencies".


From Belfast Telegraph