The life sentence given to Will Cornick for his killing of the Leeds school teacher Ann Maguire and the furore it has caused in some quarters should give us all reason to study this case with reason and a sense of calm.
Whenever a crime such as this is committed there are always questions raised, are they mad or are they bad? This has been asked over many years and sometimes I wonder if the criminal justice system more often than not comes down on the side of an enraged public who are adamant that vengeance must be made against the perpetrator(s) without taking account of any medical evidence that is thrown up to prove whether they are indeed ‘mad or bad’
When it came to sentencing Cornick the judge said that he should be given a life sentence but serve a minimum of 20 years.
While psychiatric reports did not categorically define him as a psychopathic, they said that: ‘he may have psychopathic tendencies’.
Anyone with any feelings at all would have thought that a 15-year-old boy who for no apparent season would stab his teacher several times and then casually say that he could not care how her family felt, would assess that at the very least this particular individual had behaved in a very abnormal way and certainly outside the parameters of normal human behaviour. Indeed as a lay person I would say that he could be defined as a psychopath and in need of medical treatment.
If that is the case and he is mentally ill why is the law so adamant that he should spend the rest of his life in a prison cell and being punished for having a mental condition that he has no control over?
The experts cannot have it both ways. Is Will Cornick mad or is he bad?
Acre Gate, High Green, Sheffield