PERHAPS the only blessing to come from the deeply troubling court appearance of the pupil who murdered teacher Ann Maguire was that his guilty plea at least spared her family the trauma of a trial.
Yet that did nothing to dispel the sense of horror at the events that took place at Corpus Christi Catholic College in April and the circumstances that led to the first murder of a teacher at the hands of a student in a British classroom.
As the harrowing details of the killing were laid bare it became abundantly clear that three families have been torn asunder by this horrific act.
Ann’s husband Don wept as tributes from her pupils were played to the courtroom, remembering the inspirational figure whose motto was “You can never put a limit on a child’s potential”.
He, his daughters Emma Jane and Kerry, and the rest of Ann’s family have shown tremendous dignity throughout this waking nightmare.
They say they are attempting to look to the future with “fragile hope” and we can only hope that they can rebuild their lives and find some sense of peace.
The impact of Ann’s death on the school “family”, of which she was seen as the maternal figure at both its head and its heart, has also been immeasurable, with the school still coming to terms with their loss.
Such was her dedication that on the day she was killed Ann had gone into the school on her day off to help pupils prepare for their forthcoming exams.
It is to the credit of the school’s leadership team that they sought to carry on, as their much-loved colleague would surely have wanted, reopening the day after her death to minimise the disruption to students and closing the gates only once more so that all could attend her memorial service.
At the same time, there must also be sympathy for the family of her killer. It is clear that Will Cornick’s parents are as dumbfounded as anyone that an “amicable, enthusiastic and conscientious” boy could turn into a troubled teenager who made a conscious decision to kill and even now shows a chilling lack of remorse for what he did.
The chances are that we, and they, will never truly know why he committed this unspeakable act, one that robbed the world of a cherished wife, mother and inspirational teacher who embodied the very best qualities of her profession.