‘Ann was like a second mum to me...I’ll never come to terms with her death’
THE sister of a murdered teacher has told how the crime ripped her family’s lives apart forever.
Denise Courtney has endured more than three years of grief since a pupil killed Ann Maguire in a school.
Warped Will Cornick was 15 when he stabbed her to death in front of classmates.
Cornick, below, admitted murdering Ann and was sentenced to life with a minimum 20-year term.
Now Denise has revealed how the senseless killing has destroyed her life, saying: “It was such a needless act and it was for nothing. It was for no reason.
“And I think about the devastation that’s been caused from that one act. I’ll never come to terms with what’s happened. None of us will.
“She was such a sunny person, she was such a happy person. It’s like a light that’s just gone out. I lost my best friend. I’ve lost my confidante. We shared absolutely everything and that’s now gone.
“Obviously the shock element of it and the very dark early days have gone but there are days now when I could be busy doing whatever…I suddenly get stopped in my tracks to think ‘did I dream that? Is it real? Is she not here?’”
Denise had always been close to her older sister.
She added: “She was like a second mum to me. She always took care of me and she always looked after me so I felt safe when Ann was around because she was a natural carer.
“As we got older, we became close friends. She was sort of my best friend. It wasn’t uncommon for us to speak two, three, four times a day. And when I look back our life was just a continuous phone call.”
Ann, who was 61, had been a teacher at Corpus Christi Catholic College in Leeds for more than 41 years.
In April 2014 she was just a few months from retirement.
Denise last spoke to her on the phone two days before her death.
Recalling their final conversation, she said: “She was telling me she’d been trying to get some reports done or something she was doing for school.
“She’d had a really heavy week and she’d really been burning the midnight oil that week trying to get these things done.
“I remember her saying ‘I just need to get to Tuesday’. And that was the last conversation I had with Ann.”
Troubled Cornick is said to have had a fascination with knives in the run up to the murder. He stabbed Ann halfway through a GCSE Spanish revision lesson.
When she fled the classroom he attempted to chase her.
She was rushed to hospital but died from her injuries. Denise was told the news minutes later.
She said: “Everything stopped, everything turned into slow motion… I was hearing the words but I wasn’t really processing what those words meant. And clearly it couldn’t be Ann. It couldn’t be Ann.”
The inquest into Ann’s death is set to reopen tomorrow in front of a jury at Wakefield Coroner’s Court.
Her family is desperate for answers with Denise adding: “We had lots of plans, what we were going to do when we got older, how we were going to take care of each other.
“She was very interested in travel and it’s something she hadn’t done a lot of and I know she had a bit of a bucket list.
“I know she was thinking about also buying a place over in Spain on the coast.
“A lot of the things that she had planned for her retirement she’s now been deprived of.”
Ann’s is the latest case to feature in landmark series Crimes That Shook Britain which continues tonight at 10pm on Crime + Investigation – Sky channel 553.
SO CLOSE: Ann, centre, with her sisters Denise, right, and Shelagh, left