Pupil who murdered Luke gets life term

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A SCHOOLBOY killer who knifed a teenager to death in front of a crowd of pupils was detained for life today.

Alan Pennell, a 16-year-old bully with a history of violence, stabbed Luke Walmsley through the heart in a corridor at Birkbeck Secondary School in North Somercotes, Lincolnshire

He was recommended to serve a minimum of 12 years, a day after being found guilty of murdering the 14-year-old by a jury at Nottingham Crown Court yesterday.

In sentencing, Mr Justice Goldring lifted a media ban on naming Luke’s killer and told Pennell he had gone to school on the day of the murder armed with a "wicked" weapon and intent on harming his victim.

He said: "I am conscious that nothing will bring Luke back. For Luke’s parents, for whom this case must have been agony, no time will be long enough.

"On Tuesday, November 4, 2003, Luke Walmsley, who was 14, went to school. So did you. In your pocket was a locking flickknife. I have seen it. It is a wicked weapon.

"Having heard the evidence, I am sure that it was your intention to use that knife on Luke Walmsley that day.

"You thrust the knife into his chest for the full length of its blade - seven centimetres.

"I am sure this was not something done on the spur of the moment. It was something you thought about.

"You may have intended to kill him. I am sure you took the decision to cause him the most serious injury."

Pennell, wearing a navy blue sweatshirt and tracksuit trousers, sat expressionless in the dock with his head bowed as the sentence was delivered.

The court heard that in the months leading to the fatal attack, Pennell had threatened to kill Luke on a number of occasions.

He was bigger than the defendant and it was suggested in court that 15-year-old Pennell felt threatened by Luke. The court heard the teenager disliked Luke and delivered a forceful and deliberate blow to his chest after arming himself with the flick knife on November 4 last year.

He was knifed once in the chest as he chatted about football after a lesson and collapsed a short time later.

Luke’s parents wept in the packed public gallery as they watched their son staggering along the school corridor holding his chest as his final steps, captured on CCTV camera, were played to the court.

The defendant initially tried to hide the weapon behind his back when challenged by a teacher but was persuaded to hand it over by another pupil. He admitted stabbing the teenager but denied intending to kill him when questioned by staff and police.

He said he had only intended to scare Luke by bringing a knife to school and did not mean to harm his victim. In evidence, Pennell said he was annoyed and upset after he heard Luke had been passing notes to his girlfriend.

He also said he believed the younger pupil had been making threats to fight him and saying things about his mother in the weeks leading to his death.

He admitted he had never got on well with Luke but said he had held the knife out to scare him and he walked straight into it.

He said: "I didn’t want to fight Luke. I thought if I showed the knife, it would prevent him from fighting. I was just going to say something to him to scare him.

"I thought I would confront him. Just by saying something like ’back off me or (my girlfriend)’ or something. He just walked straight into me.

"I didn’t intend to harm him."

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