LONDON - A teenage British schoolboy was jailed for at least 20 years on Monday after pleading guilty to stabbing to death a teacher he said he hated in front of horrified pupils during a lesson at a college in northern England.
The boy, then aged 15, murdered Ann Maguire, 61, in April in what was believed to be the first killing of a British teacher by a student in almost 20 years, sending shockwaves around the country where violent school incidents are rare. "This tragic case has shocked the nation," said Peter Mann, head of the complex casework unit at the regional prosecution office. He said the teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had shown no remorse at all for what he had done. "While his deep-seated hatred for Ann appears incomprehensible, we are clear that he calmly and methodically planned this cold-blooded attack on her." The boy targeted Maguire, a popular teacher, in front of about 30 pupils at Corpus Christi Catholic College in Leeds, about 175 miles (280 km) north of London, stabbing her repeatedly with a kitchen knife.
He pleaded guilty to murder at Leeds Crown Court on Monday and was told he would spend a minimum of 20 years behind bars.
Maguire, a mother of two, taught Spanish and religious education, and had worked at the school for nearly 40 years. She had been due to retire in the summer.
Police said the murder was unprecedented, and nobody could have foreseen the killing. Local commander Superintendent Paul Money said there was no obvious explanation for his hatred of Maguire and added the teenager had "decent and responsible"parents.
Although there has been growing concern about knife attacks involving teenagers in Britain, violence inside schools is uncommon. "Thankfully this is an isolated occurrence which should not be seen as an indicator of any serious violent crime issues within Corpus Christi college or any other schools in Leeds,"Money said.
Maguire was believed to be the first school teacher to be killed by a student since Philip Lawrence, a London headmaster, was stabbed at the gates of his senior school in 1995.
The worst-ever attack on a school in Britain was at the Dunblane Primary School in Scotland in March 1996 when Thomas Hamilton, 43, entered the school armed with four handguns, killing 16 children and one adult before committing suicide.