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Social media warning over Leeds teacher murder trial

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A judge has issued a stark warning to social media users not to prejudice the case of a 15-year-old boy accused of stabbing teacher Ann Maguire to death in her classroom.

Judge Geoffrey Marson QC said serious consequences could follow for individuals who named the teenager online or published other information covered by reporting restrictions.

Judge Marson made the comments as he remanded the youth in custody at Leeds Crown Court today.

The boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, appeared by video-link 24 hours after he appeared at the city’s youth court accused of murdering Mrs Maguire, 61, as she taught a lesson at Corpus Christi Catholic College on Monday morning.

The judge said journalists generally understood the restrictions that applied in the case but added: “What may not be understood by many is that these constraints and prohibitions apply also generally, including users of online social media sites and bloggers.

“They are just as much bound by these constraints as are the press.

“The consequences for individuals, I would emphasise, can be serious if there is a breach.”

The boy appeared in court on two large video screens from the centre where he is being held.

Neither his parents nor any family of Mrs Maguire were in court.

Dressed in a purple and yellow halved sweatshirt and matching trousers, the teenager stared at the floor for part of the 15-minute hearing but also looked straight at the camera, occasionally pushing his fringe off his face.

Richard Wright QC, defending, said there would be no application for bail.

Judge Marson said the youth will next appear at Leeds Crown Court for a plea and case management hearing on July 11 and fixed a provisional trial date for November 3.

Mr Wright, prosecutor Paul Greaney QC and the judge all sat in court without their normal wigs and gowns and dispensed with some of the normal protocols of the Crown Court due to the defendant’s age.

Meanwhile, police have confirmed that a second teenager was arrested in connection with the fatal stabbing.

West Yorkshire Police said the boy was arrested yesterday and later released without charge.

The force would not confirm what offence he was arrested on suspicion of, but said it was not murder.

Yesterday, Mrs Maguire’s husband Donald stared intently at the youth when the boy appeared in person at the youth court just over the road from today’s hearing.

Mr Maguire, 62, sat between his daughters Kerry and Emma at the back of the courtroom and clutched their hands as the boy stood in the glass-fronted dock flanked by security guards.

The family released an emotional tribute to the long-serving Spanish teacher, describing her as “our shining light”.

A few hours after they attended court, Mr Maguire and his family travelled to the school where his wife died to lay flowers at the gate and attend church, where they were told by the local priest they were supported by a “sea of love”.

Mrs Maguire was months away from retiring after working at Corpus Christi for more than 40 years when she was stabbed in front of pupils.

Police have confirmed that she died from multiple stab wounds.

In a statement released through West Yorkshire Police, the family said: “Our beautiful Ann, our shining light, she brightened the world for so many of us.

“A loving wife, the best mother, a treasured sister, a true friend. This horrific happening has robbed us of all of this and so much more. We are devastated. Her selfless, genuine, caring nature will remain with us eternally.

“We are overwhelmed by the support, sympathy and kind tributes we have received. They have been a source of great comfort at this dark time.

“We would ask the media to kindly respect the privacy of family and friends in the coming weeks and months.

“Ann, we will love you always, your loving family.”

Mrs Maguire’s death is the first time a teacher has been stabbed to death in a British classroom, and the first killing of a teacher in a school since the 1996 Dunblane massacre.

She first went to Corpus Christi as a student teacher and last year the school held a celebration of her 40 years’ service.

This year, she moved to working four days a week ahead of her planned retirement in five months.

Mrs Maguire, who was head of Year 11 at the school for more than 10 years, lived in the Moortown area of Leeds with her husband, who is a retired maths teacher and landscape gardener.

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