UK

Ann Maguire Murderer Will Cornick's Prison Sentence 'More Than His Own Lifetime'

04/11/2014 11:02 GMT | Updated 04/11/2014 11:59 GMT

The prison sentence for the teenage murderer of teacher Ann Maguire is too long, an expert has claimed, saying it is "more than his own lifetime".

Will Cornick was 15 when he fatally stabbed Mrs Maguire during a lesson at the Corpus Christi Catholic School, in Leeds in May. As she lay in an adjacent room with another teacher, aware she was dying, she spoke about "her children and the fact she was loved".

At the same time, Cornick had returned to the classroom and shouted "good times" to his fellow pupils and calmly sat describing an adrenaline rush from the killing.

On Monday, Cornick, now 16, was sentenced to to life, serving a minimum of 20 years in prison, after he admitted to the murder at Leeds Crown Court.

He had told psychiatrists he "didn't give a shit" about the impact Mrs Maguire's murder would have on her family and what he did was "fine and dandy".

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Will Cornick, who was formally named as Ann Maguire's killer for the first time on Monday

Before the muruder, he had also said he wanted to kill two other teachers, including one who was pregnant, whom he wanted to stab in the stomach to kill her unborn child.

Describing Cornick's potential release one day, the judge, Mr Justice Coulson, said the psychiatric reports on him meant "that day may never come".

While the sentence triggered revulsion from people on social media who felt it was too generous, a youth justice expert has said it is too long.

Penelope Gibbs, who chairs the Standing Committee for Youth Justice (SCYJ) group of charities and campaign groups, told the 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 said there was "no evidence" for the 20-year minimum tariff.

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"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."

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Ann Maguire had taught at the school for more than four decades and was due to retire in September

In England and wales, murder carries an automatic life sentence but these come with a minimum tariff - time that must be served in prison.

After this, they are eligible for release but remain on licence, making them subject to the criminal justice system and subject to recall to prison.

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?"

Predictably, the reaction on Twitter to her comments was mainly negative.

Speaking after the sentence, Mrs Maguire's widower Don said he felt he could "no longer be a dad" to his daughters, Kerry and Emma, after the murder of his wife.

He said: "I'm still a dad but cannot help my children understand, cannot help them come to terms, cannot help them lessen the pain. Mummy would have been so much better. I can no longer be a dad."

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Emma, Kelly and Don Maguire (front row left to right) listen to a statement being read out after they left Leeds Crown Court

Mr Maguire described the dreams he had of living in a rural backwater with his "beautiful, vivacious, generous, caring" wife.

"Now all our dreams have gone forever," he said.

Daughter Kerry said the murder had robbed her of her mother, and her future children of a grandmother.

In her statement, she said: "Mummy was a constant. Her love was boundless and her heart was open. She was a beacon of light, guiding and protecting me through my life."

Mrs Maguire's other daughter Emma said: "Every morning, I wake up and I pray that this is all a bad dream, just a split second of hope which quickly vanishes and the horror of the reality sets in."

Her statement added: "She gave us so much love, I never felt alone in life, I had my mummy."