Thursday 27 July 2017

Killer pupil (15) the only one to blame for teacher's murder - review finds

No-one could have
No-one could have "predicted or pre-empted" the murder of much-loved teacher Ann Maguire by a 15-year-old pupil, an official review into the killing has concluded. P/A
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

No-one could have "predicted or pre-empted" the murder of much-loved teacher Ann Maguire by a 15-year-old pupil, an official review into the killing has concluded.

Mrs Maguire, 61, was celebrating her 40th year teaching at Corpus Christi Catholic College in Leeds when she was stabbed during a Spanish lesson by Will Cornick, who was later jailed for life for murder with a minimum of 20 years.

Her killing, in front of a class full of students, is the only time a teacher has been murdered by a pupil in a UK school.

Cornick had threatened to kill Mrs Maguire in social media postings.

Mrs Maguire, 61, was celebrating her 40th year teaching at Corpus Christi Catholic College in Leeds when she was stabbed during a Spanish lesson by Will Cornick, who was later jailed for life for murder with a minimum of 20 years. P/A
Mrs Maguire, 61, was celebrating her 40th year teaching at Corpus Christi Catholic College in Leeds when she was stabbed during a Spanish lesson by Will Cornick, who was later jailed for life for murder with a minimum of 20 years. P/A

But in a report published on Tuesday, independent reviewer Nick Page, who was able to interview the teenager, concluded that: "No individual other than Will Cornick should in any way feel responsible for Ann's murder."

He said there were no warning signs known to staff or other agencies at the time, adding: "There are a number of suggested refinements to practice in Corpus Christi Catholic College but this is in no way to suggest that if implemented previously, they would have prevented Ann's murder.

"What is clear to me, as the reviewer, is that no one could have predicted or pre-empted Will Cornick's attack on Ann Maguire and following her murder, individuals and organisations acted courageously, coherently and professionally in supporting the school and affected people."

The report outlined how Cornick had a happy childhood despite his "loving and supportive" parents splitting.

He had reported some difficulties when he started at the school but his head of year had commented that he was "a delightful pupil" and in Year 10, Mrs Maguire wrote: "William is a bright conscientious young man."

But in December 2013, Cornick "communicated on social media to a friend about his hatred of Ann and talked about brutally killing her", the report noted.

In February 2014, the report said, there was a dispute between Cornick and Mrs Maguire over a detention and, later, his parents said his relationship with the teacher had "broken down". The report said this baffled Mrs Maguire.

But Cornick sent another message to a friend on Facebook that Mrs Maguire "deserves more than death more than pain, torture and more than anything that we can understand".

The report said Cornick had decided to murder her four days before he did so. He told other pupils about this and about plans to kill his current head of year and another teacher and her unborn baby.

On the morning of April 28, Cornick packed a rucksack containing a small craft knife and a kitchen knife as well as a bottle of whisky. He said the bottle was "intended to give to a friend as a 'parting gift' after killing Ann", the report said.

The report said that, after a "normal" start to the day, Cornick made further statements about what he intended to do.

It said: "The police investigation highlighted that pupils had heard Will make such statements before and did not take them seriously. One pupil told police that Will had a dark sense of humour."

During the Spanish lesson, Cornick picked up the larger of the two knives and stabbed Mrs Maguire in the upper back and neck seven times from behind.

The report said: "There were no credible 'warning signs' - behaviours or antecedent behaviours - that could or should have been picked up by agencies or professionals leading up to the murder."

Subsequent psychiatric assessments have suggested that he had an adjustment disorder but this was not evident to those around him, the report said.

Neither staff at the school nor his parents were aware of Cornick's threats towards Mrs Maguire, it added.

Mr Page concluded: "This was a unique event and there are no recommendations I can make which in hindsight could have assisted staff in predicting or preventing the murder of Ann Maguire by Will Cornick or in preventing a similar event in the future."

He said he had deliberated at great length on the issues of young people discussing troubling messages - in person or through social media - with adults.

Mr Page said: "The question 'how can children be encouraged and supported to share concerns with trusted adults?' goes beyond the scope of this review, but perhaps locally, through the Leeds Safeguarding Children Board, research can be undertaken on children and young people's confidence and approach to disclosure of this type, and indeed this is likely to be a subject worthy of better understanding nationally."

Mark Peel, independent chair of the board, which commissioned the review, said he fully accepted the findings, adding: "It is also reassuring that this outcome of the Learning Lessons Review is in agreement with the findings of the court, in that this tragic incident could not have been foreseen or prevented, and that the only person responsible for Ann Maguire's death, has been punished accordingly."

Mrs Maguire's husband Don said the review "appears to be significantly different from an early draft report which we viewed some months ago".

In a statement released by his lawyers Irwin Mitchell, he added: "Therefore our family shall need some time to read and consider its findings.

"Once we have completed this we will make a statement and I shall make myself available to answer questions or for interview."

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