The life sentence handed down to the “evil” 16-year-old schoolboy who murdered teacher Ann Maguire has been condemned as “too harsh” by a youth justice campaigner.
Will Cornick will serve at least 20 years for killing Mrs Maguire, 61, who was stabbed seven times from behind as she taught a Spanish class at Corpus Christi Catholic College in Leeds in April.
Mr Justice Coulson warned Cornick, who was 15 at the time, that he might never be released from prison as he passed sentence at Leeds Crown Court.
In his impact statement, Mrs Maguire’s widower, Don, described the killing as a “monumental act of cowardice and evil” and said: “The callous cruelty displayed defies comprehension.”
But Penelope Gibbs, who chairs the Standing Committee for Youth Justice (SCYJ) umbrella group of charities and campaign groups, said the sentence was too long.
She told the BBC Radio 4 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 accepted that the sentence had to serve as a punishment, but said there was “no evidence” for the 20-year minimum tariff.
“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.”
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?”
Cornick attacked Mrs Maguire after boasting to friends that he was going to kill her. He also said he was going to murder other teachers, including a pregnant woman “so as to kill her unborn child”, the court heard.
He later told doctors: “I said I was going to do other stuff but I never got the chance, other murders. It was a triple homicide.”
After the murder the teenager told psychiatrists that he “couldn’t give a s***’’ and added: “Everything I’ve done is fine and dandy.”