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.
Earlier today, the sentence handed to Cornick was condemned as “too harsh” by a youth justice campaigner.
In his impact statement, Mrs Maguire’s widower, Don, described the killing as a “monumental act of cowardice and evil” and said: “The callous cruelty displayed defies comprehension.”
But Penelope Gibbs, who chairs the Standing Committee for Youth Justice (SCYJ) umbrella group of charities and campaign groups, said the sentence was too long.
She told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “We are out of line with the whole of western Europe. There are no other countries within western Europe which give children - and this boy is seen as a child under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and is in the youth justice system - who would give children a life sentence.”
Ms Gibbs accepted that the sentence had to serve as a punishment, but said there was “no evidence” for the 20-year minimum tariff.
“Punishment is also incredibly important, particularly for the victims and families, but the fact is, how many years do we need for punishment? We have given him a sentence which is more than his own lifetime,” she said.
“He was 15 when he did this crime and we would say that you don’t need that long to punish.
“What is crucial is that when he is released he is assessed as no longer being of danger to himself and others and thus we would all be safer.
“But there is no evidence that that takes 20 years and we’ve looked and we think that this is the longest sentence given to a child in at least 10 years ... I’m not going to tell you exactly what the right sentence would have been, but 20 years and a life sentence is too long.”
She continued: “There are very good prisons, there is a prison called Grendon which is a therapeutic community, and prisoners go there for a few years and it has great results.
“The question is - safer society, yes; punishment, yes - but does it need to be more than his lifetime?”
Cornick attacked Mrs Maguire after boasting to friends that he was going to kill her. He also said he was going to murder other teachers, including a pregnant woman “so as to kill her unborn child”, the court heard.
He later told doctors: “I said I was going to do other stuff but I never got the chance, other murders. It was a triple homicide.”
After the murder the teenager told psychiatrists that he “couldn’t give a s***’’ and added: “Everything I’ve done is fine and dandy.”