In November 2014, 16-year-old schoolboy William Cornick was sentenced to life imprisonment for killing his teacher, Ann Maguire in their Leeds Catholic school. He was sentenced to serve a minimum term of 20 years. William Cornick had a grudge against Mrs Maguire, and he had made it known that he was going to kill her, or at least do her significant harm.
On the 28th April 2014, when he was 15 years old, he turned up at school armed with a knife. He told pupils what he was going to do, and he even showed them the knife. Yet he was not taken seriously by his fellow pupils, nor was he reported to the staff.
The high court judge, Mr Justice Coulson, who presided over the sentencing stage, lifted the reporting restrictions that had banned the identification of William Cornick, which he said would have a ‘clear deterrent effect’. But did it?
Because here we are again, nine years later (July 2023), a schoolboy at Tewkesbury Academy has stabbed his teacher on the school premises. In the corridor. The pupil, who is 15 and who cannot be named at this stage for legal reasons, has been arrested and charged with attempted wounding with intent and possession of a bladed article after he stabbed maths teacher Jamie Sansom, who thankfully, lived to tell the tale.
In the aftermath of Mrs Maguire’s murder, Chief Superintendent Paul Money of West Yorkshire Police said, “No person acting in authority could have reasonably foreseen the events” of April 28th. I wrote about this matter in my column in 2014. After all, I disagreed with the Chief Superintendent’s assertion, because I believed this tragedy could have been averted – bearing in mind killer Cornick had made clear his intentions. I believed then that William Cornick should have been searched and still do now believe pupils should be searched before they enter school buildings.
Yes, I know, some liberal do-gooder will jump up and say that’s against their human rights. But what of the victims? Recently, on my way into central London, I was approaching the entrance to the train station when I saw in front of me an airport-style walk-through metal detector manned by a host of police officers. At first, I was taken aback at this sight but quickly came to realise such an initiative could have far-reaching and even lifesaving effects.
Knife crime is the scourge of our society and not a day goes by when you don’t read about someone having lost their life to it. And one way of arresting this bleed is by screening.
When I wrote about William Cornick’s case back in 2014, I said let this tragedy be a lesson to other schools, and in that regard, they must take the safety and well-being of staff and pupils seriously.