Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland until I return to the Murcia region of Spain in the Autumn for a month or so
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Tuesday, 27 July 2004

Killer of Luke Walmsley (14) named as Alan Pennell (16), of Grainthorpe, Lincs

I wrote yesterday about this tragic case, after the guilty verdict was announced against the killer, a fellow pupil. At the time the killer's name could not be published because of his age.

Today Mr Justice Goldring sentenced the murderer to detention for life, with a recommendation that he serve a minimum of 12 years. At the same time the judge has lifted the reporting instructions which forbade naming the killer, who we now know is Alan Pennell; he was 15 at the time he killed Luke.

Mrs Jayne Walmsley, Luke's mother, spoke at a press conference this morning after the sentencing, describing the killer as follows:

"He was an evil boy who was a bully.

"That boy convicted of killing him today still has some form of life in front of him. Luke has not.

"We as a family are now trying to rebuild our lives without Luke. Trying to be strong for each other, especially his sister Lauren.

"There were no cameras in the locker areas and none in the alcove where he was killed.

"I do feel that there should be CCTV and it should be monitored during classroom changes."

I'll come back to this in just a moment, but meantime there is this link to an article in the Daily Telegraph today which throws light on the characters of the two boys -Luke Walmsley is said to have been sporty, academic and popular whereas Alan Pennell os described as a persistent, inarticulate bully feared and despised by his peers. It seems also that Luke had not wished to remain behind for his usual rugby practice on the day he was killed. It is speculated that he had heard that Alan Pennell had been stating openly for several weeks that he wished Luke harm and it may be that Luke feared something was going to happen on that day.

Now, back to Mrs Walmsley's remarks. I can only glimpse a small part of the loss and anguish that she and Luke's father have experienced every day since Luke's killing, or what they will probably continue to experience for a very long time to come. I am hesitant, however, at the wisdom of having CCTV cameras tracking pupils and staff throughout every second of the school day, although perhaps there is a case for having either active supervision or CCTV surveillance in locker rooms and perhaps in key corridors between classes. I am generally of a 'libertarian' right-of-centre bent and consider that continuous surveillance is to be avoided at almost any cost. Nevertheless I recognise the emotions which have led Mrs Walmsley to express herself as she did.

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