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Tributes flow in for ‘brilliant’ teacher stabbed in Leeds

02 May 2014


In mourning: a nun at Corpus Christi Catholic College comforts two pupils after the stabbing of their teacher

In mourning: a nun at Corpus Christi Catholic College comforts two pupils after the stabbing of their teacher

THE Bishop-designate of Leeds, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, has led tributes to Anne Maguire, the teacher stabbed to death in her Leeds classroom by a pupil on Monday.

Bishop Baines, who will become the first diocesan bishop of the new diocese of West Yorkshire & the Dales in June, said that the killing had shocked him deeply. "My prayers are for the family of Anne Maguire, for the staff and students at the school, and all affected by this tragedy."

Mrs Maguire, a popular teacher of Spanish and RE at the Roman Catholic Corpus Christi College, was stabbed several times in front of her stunned students. She was taken to hospital, but later pronounced dead.

A 15-year-old pupil has been arrested and charged with her murder. He was remanded in custody after a brief hearing at Leeds Youth Court on Thursday.

The school lies in the parish of St Philip's, Osmondthorpe. The Priest-in-Charge, the Revd Karen Marshall, paid tribute to Mrs Maguire.

"It is with profound sadness and shock that we hear of the untimely death of Anne Maguire. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family, the school, and the boy concerned. We pay tribute to her great contribution to the lives of young people here in East Leeds, and pray for strength and courage for the whole community to face the challenges inevitably brought about by this terrible event."

Chief Superintendent Paul Money from West Yorkshire Police said that the stabbing was an isolated incident, and no other teachers or pupils had been threatened. He also said that schools in Leeds were generally "very safe places".

One pupil told the BBC that Mrs Maguire had been an inspiring teacher. "She was amazing; she was the best at everything, and a really lovely lady." Another said: "She was a brilliant teacher as well - just last week I went in for a reference for another college and she was saying how she misses us all . . . and now she's not here. It's just really sad."

Corpus Christi Catholic College teaches 944 students between the ages of 11 and 16. On its website, the head teacher, Steve Mort, describes the college as having a "strong Christian ethos", and says that the school day always began with prayer.

Mgr John Wilson, apostolic administrator from the RC diocese of Leeds, said that the diocese was providing pastoral care to anyone from the school who needed it. "The news that a teacher at Corpus Christi Catholic College in Leeds has been stabbed by a pupil is both shocking and tragic.

"On behalf of the Catholic Church in the diocese of Leeds, I extend our sincere sympathy especially to the victim's familyand to the College community. Catholic Care, the diocesan caring agency, is deploying a team of professionals to the College to provide support."

The Pope's ambassador to the UK, Archbishop Antonio Mennini, has written to the RC diocese of Leeds to express his condolences and the "spiritual closeness" of the Pope.

The local C of E diocesan director of education, Richard Noake, described it as an isolated incident, "a tragic one, but it is isolated, and I do not particularly feel it representative of what schools are like today, even in the most challenging contexts.

"I feel quite strongly that the shock and the sadness of this event is genuine, and this is not necessarily an opportunity for people to say schools are terrible places to be."

The Priest-in-Charge of the neighbouring parish, St Wilfrid's, Halton, the Revd Darren Moore, spoke of strong ecumenical links. "We shall be keeping all at Corpus Christi and the parish of Blessed John Henry Newman in our thoughts and prayers."

Separately, the man convicted of the killing of head teacher Philip Lawrence outside his school gates in 1995 has been recommended for release.

Learco Chindamo, now 33, was just 15-years-old when he stabbed Mr Lawrence outside St George's School in Maida Vale, north-west London. 

A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said the independent Parole Board had made the decision, but that Mr Chindamo would remain on licence and liable for recall to prison if certain conditions are broken for the rest of his life. 

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