THE widower of the murdered Wigan school teacher Ann Maguire has welcomed a coroner’s decision to hold an inquest into his wife’s death. Mrs Maguire’s family continue to call for answers about whether the tragedy could have been prevented.
Mrs Maguire, who was born in Scholes and whose family still live in Wigan, was murdered in 2013 as she taught in school in Leeds.
Her husband, Don, was at Wakefield Coroner’s Court to hear West Yorkshire Coroner 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 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.”
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.”
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 they came by their death, but are not designed to establish criminal liability or attribute blame.
An inquest was opened after Mrs Maguire was stabbed to death by Cornick, who was 15 at the time, at Corpus Christi Catholic College, in Halton Moor, Leeds, in April 2014.
It was then suspended pending the outcome of the criminal case, which resulted in Cornick pleading guilty to murder and being sentenced to life, with a minimum custodial term of 20 years, in November the same year.
A “learning lessons review” was later announced by the Leeds Safeguarding Children Board and Mr Hinchliff said he would await its results before a further hearing but that an inquest would then be held “as speedily as possible”.
The Maguire family’s lawyer Nick Armstrong told Mr Hinchliff that the family wanted to find out who knew what about Cornick’s state of mind in the weeks before he murdered Mrs Maguire.
Speaking outside court, he said they were 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.”