Boy (16) sentenced to life for murder of teacher in Leeds

Will Cornick wrote on Facebook: Ann Maguire ‘deserves more than death, more than pain’

A mug-shot from West Yorkshire Police shows 16-year-old Will Cornick, who was sentenced today after admitting to murdering teacher Anne Maguire, at Leeds Crown Court. Photograph: Reuters/West Yorkshire Police

A mug-shot from West Yorkshire Police shows 16-year-old Will Cornick, who was sentenced today after admitting to murdering teacher Anne Maguire, at Leeds Crown Court. Photograph: Reuters/West Yorkshire Police

 

A 16-year-old boy was today sentenced at Leeds Crown Court to life with a minimum of 20 years after admitting the murder of teacher Ann Maguire.

Will Cornick murdered the teacher after declaring on Facebook she “deserves more than death, more than pain, torture and more than anything that we can understand”.

The teenager, whose parents were in court today to hear him admit the “inexplicable” murder, also spoke of attacking other school staff, including a pregnant woman “so as to kill her unborn child”.

Cornick, who winked at a fellow pupil before launching his assault, stabbed Ms Maguire (61) seven times as she taught a class at Corpus Christi Catholic College in Leeds in April, when he was 15.

In an attack that shocked Britain, he chased Ms Maguire, “stabbing her as she sought to escape”, Leeds Crown Court heard. He later expressed a “sense of pride” in what he had done.

Outlining the case, Paul Greaney QC, prosecuting, said: “It is important that we should record that it is clear from the evidence that the parents [of Cornick] are decent people and responsible parents. They are at a loss to understand how and why their son has turned out as he has and they have co-operated fully with the police and with the prosecution.

“It follows that this is not one of those cases in which a defendant’s actions may find a degree of explanation in his family circumstances. On the contrary, [Cornick’s] family life was marked by love and support.”

Mr Greaney added that that made the defendant’s actions “all the more inexplicable”.

He said the boy was in Ms Maguire’s Spanish class and his academic reports “had generally been positive”. There was nothing to indicate to Cornick’s parents or teachers a risk of “homicidal violence”.

However, he said, pupils noticed disturbing aspects to his personality. He had told other children that he hated Ms Maguire and wanted her dead.

“Late on the night of Christmas Eve 2013 and into the early hours of Christmas Day,” Mr Greaney said, “the defendant exchanged messages with a friend on Facebook.

“In those messages he spoke of ‘brutally killing’ Mrs Maguire and spending the rest of his life in jail so as not to have to worry about life or money.”

The boy, wearing a grey suit and tie, stood flanked by two prison officers in the dock as the court clerk read out the charge. He looked straight ahead and showed no emotion as he admitted murder.

Cornick’s parents sat at the back of the dock and listened intently to the details of their son’s crime. Ms Maguire’s family sat in an area of the courtroom normally reserved for court officials, while the large public gallery was packed with members of the press.

Due to the young age of the defendant, the judge and barristers did not wear their wigs and gowns during the hearing.

Two months before the murder, the boy sent a message on Facebook which said of Ms Maguire: “The one absolute f****** bitch that deserves more than death, more than pain, torture and more than anything that we can understand.”

He told a psychiatrist how he planned the murder.

The prosecutor said he took a bottle of whisky to school to celebrate after the attack.

Mr Greaney told the court that the defendant said to the expert: “I decided on Sunday it was going to be a knife. I thought I was just going to go to school and wait for her lesson and do it. I wanted to get caught. That’s why I did it in school. I wanted to be in jail.”

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

Mr Greaney said the boy left a room next to where Ms Maguire was teaching and winked at a fellow student before going to attack her. There was no expression on the boy’s face as he stabbed her, one pupil said.

Mr Greaney said: “Mrs Maguire was at her desk helping pupils. She was leaning over, looking at the work of a girl . . . The defendant approached his teacher and began to stab her in the neck and back. He attacked her from behind.

“Ann Maguire was 61 years of age, 5ft 2in in height and of slim build. The defendant was a full foot taller and was armed with a large kitchen knife. To describe his attack as cowardly hardly does it justice.”

The prosecutor said Ms Maguire fled but she was chased by Cornick “stabbing her as she sought to escape”.

Mr Greaney said the boy had earlier told pupils he wanted to attack other teachers, including a pregnant woman “so as to kill her unborn child”.

Ms Maguire’s friend and colleague, Susan Francis, heard screaming and rushed into the corridor where she found children “screaming in panic”.

He said Ms Maguire ran towards her, holding her neck and saying: “He’s stabbed me in the neck.” The defendant then came after her, “in effect chasing her”. Ms Francis pushed her friend into a workroom and held her foot against the door to keep the boy out.

Mr Greaney said: “She was able to see [the boy] through a glass panel in the door. His face was emotionless and he then walked away . . . The bravery and decency of Susan Francis during this period stand in the starkest contrast to the conduct of [the boy].”

Ms Maguire was stabbed seven times to her upper back and neck, Mr Greaney said. The main wound was to her jugular vein. He said a paramedic who attended later said the stab wounds were the worst he had ever seen.

The prosecutor said the boy went back to the classroom and sat down “as if nothing had happened”.

He said: “He sat down beside . . . and said that he had stabbed Mrs Maguire. He added that it was a pity she was not dead. He said to the entire class ‘good times’ and spoke of an adrenalin rush.”

Mr Greaney said: “Undoubtedly, one of the most disturbing aspects of an extremely disturbing case is that [the boy] not only lacks remorse but is proud of what he did in killing Mrs Maguire, who he at one stage described to [a psychiatrist] as barely human.”

He said Cornick told a psychiatrist: “I wasn’t in shock, I was happy. I had a sense of pride. I still do. I know it’s uncivilised but I know it’s incredibly instinctual and human. Past generations of life, killing is a route of survival. It’s kill or be killed. I did not have a choice. It was kill her or suicide.”

When the expert asked about the impact on Ms Maguire’s family, Cornick replied: “I couldn’t give a s***” and added: “I know the victim’s family will be upset but I don’t care. In my eyes, everything I’ve done is fine and dandy.” – (PA)