The widower of murdered school teacher Ann Maguire has welcomed a coroner’s decision to hold an inquest into his wife’s death – as her family continue their quest for answers about whether the tragedy could have been prevented.
Don Maguire was at Wakefield Coroner’s Court to hear David Hinchliff announce that he would resume an inquest into Mrs Maguire’s death despite the successful prosecution of her teenage killer Will Cornick.
Full inquests do not normally take place once a criminal conviction has been secured.
However, Mr Hinchliff said the case was “entirely exceptional and unusual” and that a full inquest, which was opened before the criminal court case but then suspended, was justified.
He said: “Ordinarily, when a person has died as a result of a homicide, there’s a public airing of the facts and circumstances and issues in crown court. This did not occur in Ann’s case because the defendant pleaded guilty... therefore that wouldn’t fulfil the requirements of an inquest.”
He added: “I will resume Ann’s inquest. It will no longer be suspended. That will enable me to obtain all the relevant information through the court.”
Mrs Maguire was stabbed to death by Cornick, who was 14 at the time, at Corpus Christi Catholic College, in Halton Moor, in April 2014.
Cornick pleaded guilty to murder and was given a life custodial sentence, with a minimum tariff of 20 years, in November the same year.
Inquests are held when a person dies in sudden or unexplained circumstances.
They are described as “fact-finding” exercises to determine who has died, as well as when where and how, but are not designed to establish criminal liability or attribute blame.
Mr Hinchliff said he would await the results of a “learning lessons review” being carried out by the Leeds Safeguarding Children Board before a further hearing but that an inquest would then be held “as speedily as possible”.
Mr Maguire, whose family have been campaigning for a full, statutory, independent review, said: “I’m very pleased that the coroner has decided to resume the inquest.”
The family’s legal representative Nick Armstrong said the family was concerned about how thorough the learning lessons review would be – and the fact that it is being carried out in private.
He added: “Mrs Maguire’s death was a massive event. It’s the only time it has ever happened in a school in the UK and one of only a very few cases worldwide but exceptionality does not mean inexplicability.”