Thursday 14 December 2017

Scotland school stabbing: Teenage schoolboy found guilty of killing fellow pupil Bailey Gwynne

Sixteeen-year-old died after single blow with a knife pierced his heart following a "trivial" row over biscuits

Bailey Gwynne Credit: Police Scotland/PA Wire
Bailey Gwynne Credit: Police Scotland/PA Wire

Auslan Cramb

A teenage schoolboy has been found guilty of the culpable homicide of 16-year-old Bailey Gwynne.

The victim died after his heart was punctured when he was stabbed following a "trivial" row at Cults Academy, one of Scotland's highest performing state schools, last October.

The killer, who cannot be named because of his age, denied murder and was convicted of the reduced charge of culpable homicide, the equivalent of manslaughter south of the border, at the end of a five-day trial at the High Court in Aberdeen.

Alex Prentice QC, prosecuting, said in his closing speech that Bailey had “no chance” of survival after a “silly, trivial fight between two schoolboys” escalated dramatically when a knife was produced.

He said that members of the jury would have to have “hearts of stone” not to be moved by the emotion of the trial, but also asked why the assailant would carry a knife and a knuckleduster with him to school, adding: "This was a murderous attack because of the wicked recklessness of stabbing someone in the chest."

He told the court: "There was a stab wound to the heart inflicted by a lethal weapon that was routinely carried. It may be everyone in this room wishes they had the power to turn back time.

Bailey Gwynne, 16, who died after being stabbed by another teenager at Cults Academy in Aberdeen. Photo: Facebook/PA Wire
Bailey Gwynne, 16, who died after being stabbed by another teenager at Cults Academy in Aberdeen. Photo: Facebook/PA Wire

"If we could do that, what would we do? We would say 'get rid of the knife, school is no place for a knife'.

"This case demonstrates the dangers of carrying a knife. If you have a knife you have the ability to use it."

Floral tributes are left outside Cults Academy in Aberdeen
Floral tributes are left outside Cults Academy in Aberdeen

Mr Prentice said he did not suggest the accused set off intending to kill Bailey Gwynne. But he added: "If he had not been carrying a knife the outcome of the conflict would have been a few bruises and perhaps a fat lip."

However, Ian Duguid QC, defending, said the jury was dealing with a "spontaneous event" which lasted about 30 seconds and while his client had shown “extraordinary stupidity”, the victim was the "aggressor" and had also been “reckless” in assaulting a fellow pupil.

Police outside Cults Academy in Aberdeen
Police outside Cults Academy in Aberdeen

He said that to convict him of murder the jury had to decide he had the state of mind to measure up to a deliberate killer, despite delivering a single blow.

Mr Duguid said a "trivial" matter started the fight, but the accused was not a "fighting boy", adding: “Of course, if he did not have a knife that day there would be a burst nose and a fat lip, but for who? Bailey Gwynne? I don't think so."

The court heard earlier that the row between the pair began with an argument over biscuits, which Bailey had with him at school. It then escalated when one of the boys called the mother of the other boy fat and a fight broke out.

The pupil who stabbed Bailey said in a police interview that he bought knives and knuckledusters on the internet because he did not fit in at school and thought it was "cool".

Det Supt David McLaren, of Police Scotland, 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 this case have caused shock within the local community and further afield across the whole of the country.

"The investigation into Bailey's death involved officers from the local policing division and from national specialist units. Whilst the circumstances around Bailey being killed are relatively uncomplicated, it is still difficult to comprehend that he died at school at the hands of a fellow school pupil.

"It is the senseless decision to take a knife into a school setting that has undoubtedly led to Bailey's death. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank those pupils and teachers who tried their very best to save Bailey's life but as we have heard during the trial, he was beyond saving.

He added: "Those teachers and pupils have shown incredible strength over the last week whilst giving evidence during this trial.

"Finally, I'd like to pay tribute to Bailey's family. Today won't bring their son back, the pain of not having Bailey around will last for a very long time."

The guilty pupil was also convicted of having knives or "bladed instruments" as well as two knuckledusters "without reasonable excuse or lawful authority" on various occasions between August 19, 2014, and the day of the killing. He will be sentenced in April.

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