Teenager sentenced to a minimum of 20 years for murder of teacher Ann Maguire

Ann Maguire.
Ann Maguire.

A teenager who stabbed a teacher to death in the classroom of a Leeds school has today been told he must serve a minimum of 20 years in custody.

A court heard the youngster fatally stabbed Ann Maguire in front of her pupils and said after the attack “everything I have done is fine and dandy.”

The 16-year-old, who cannot be named, had fantasised about the killing Mrs Maguire for years before the attack at Corpus Christi Catholic College in Leeds.

He was detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure after admitting murder. A judge told the youngster he will be detained in custody until at least 2034 before he can apply to the parole board for release.

Leeds Crown Court heard how the killer “harboured a deep-seated and irrational hatred” for Mrs Maguire.

Sentencing the teenager, Mr Justice Coulson said: “The attack was relentless, brutal and cowardly.”

He added: “In every respect this was a long way from a killing on the spur of the moment.”

“This was a killing which you deliberately chose to commit in public. You killed Mrs Maguire in front of of a classroom of 15 and 16 year olds. The damage to them is incalculable.

“It was an attack on a woman in her sixties by a strapping teenager armed with a large knife.

“You have shown a total and chilling lack of remorse.”

The youngster, aged 15 at the time, showed a large kitchen knife to his friend and winked at him shortly before repeatedly stabbing Mrs Maguire in the neck and back as she leant over a desk helping a pupil with her home work.

After the attack, he turned to the rest of the class and said “Good times”. He also spoke of having an adrenaline rush.

The youngster later told a psychiatrist: “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.”

Prosecutor Paul Greaney, QC, said: “To describe the attack as cowardly hardly does it justice.”

The court heard the teenager had exchanged messages with a friend on Facebook months before the attack, which took place on April 28 this year.

Mr Greaney said: “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.

“He spoke of claiming that he was hearing voices, something he was in fact later to assert, and, as a result, what he described as “comfy walls”.

He was, in other words, talking of killing Ann Maguire and then setting up a medical defence.”

The youngster pleaded guilty to murder today as he was due to go on trial over the killing

He stood in the dock of with his parents and answered guilty when the murder charge was put to him by the clerk of the court

Spanish teacher Mrs Maguire was months away from retirement when she was attacked on April 28 this year.

She had taught at the school for more than 40 years.

After the killing, the teenager described to a psychiatrist how he planned the murder.

He said: “On the Thursday before, I’d decided homicide rather than suicide - I don’t know why.

“I’d had homicidal thoughts since February - be done with it.

“At the time I did it, I wasn’t thinking about, it was a plan.

“I just knew I was going to kill her.

“On Sunday I thought I was going to get my other weapon. I’d considered a blunt object for example a stick, but this would be hard to hide and hard to do.

“I considered a gun but I couldn’t get one and i didn’t know where to start.

“I’d considered gravity. I’d thought about breaking a window and pushing her out but I couldn’t break the window.

“I decided 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 just wanted to get caught, that’s why I did it in school. I wanted to be in jail.”

Pupils rushed into the corridor screaming in panic after Mrs Maguire was stabbed.

Mrs Maguire ran to her colleague Susan Francis and told her “he’s stabbed me in the neck.”

Mr Greaney described how the teenager continued chasing Mrs Maguire.

Mrs Francis pushed Mrs Maguire into a workroom and bravely held her foot against it stop the attacker getting in. Mr Greaney said: “His face was emotionless and he then walked away.”

Mrs Maguire lost consciousness soon after the stabbing and was pronounced dead when she arrived at Leeds General Infirmary.

The court heard the youngster also took a bottle of Jack Daniels whiskey to school with him on the day of the attack as he wanted to celebrate afterwards.

The teenager also had plans to kill two other teachers.

He also told a psychiatrist about the killing: “I wasn’t in shock, I was happy. I had a sense of pride. I still do.”

Psychiatrist Dr John Kent considered the teenager as of average intelligence and found no evidence of any psychotic or psychiatric illness.

Dr Kent said he did consider the teenager has having an adjustment disorder that had affected his personality. The doctor’s view was that he suffered “an emerging personality disorder with some marked psychopathic traits with a preoccupation with homicide, targeted enmity towards the victim and others and a possible fascination with knives.”

Mr Greaney said: “That his anger and hatred in fact became focused upon a person as decent and loved as Ann Maguire only makes this case the more tragic and goes to explain the outpouring of grief that there has been within the school and within the community more generally.

“The court will be aware that the Town Hall of this city and the streets around it were packed for a memorial service for Mrs Maguire on September 24. Traffic was literally halted as he life was celebrated.”

The court was played recorded footage of Mrs Maguire’s pupils paying tributes to her.

Mr Maguire also read out victim impact statements on behalf of her husband Don, daughters Kerry and Emma-Jane, and other relatives.

Mr Maguire said: “Ann was a beautiful, vivacious, caring, generous human being. She was unique among her peers and family.”

He added: “I can no longer be a dad. I fail every day. I need Ann. Part of our lives have been brutally taken. The centre of our lives is missing. Days are diminished.”

Emma Jane said: “Every morning I wake up and pray that this all a bad dream.

Just a split second of hope will quickly vanish and the horror of what happened sinks in - my mum was brutally murdered.”

Richard Wright, QC, mitigating said the killing had had “touched a nation” and devastated Mrs Maguire’s family.