NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Bailey Gwynne case: When an ordinary school day turned to horror

Image caption The Cults Academy stabbing shocked the community

"Nobody should go to school and not come home" said a card left on flowers.

It was an ordinary school day that began like any other.

Pupils started arriving for lessons at Cults Academy, in a well-heeled suburb on the outskirts of Aberdeen, on what is remembered as a "horrible, dreich" day - 28 October 2015.

Teachers discussed their plans for the day over a coffee, before morning lessons began as usual.

At lunch time, some pupils would eat in the school, while the older students could head to the local shops with their friends.

However, at about 13:19, that normal day was shattered - as many lives would be - as the lunch break drew to a close.

Fifth year pupil Bailey Gwynne was said to be a quiet lad when he started secondary and began to thrive as the school years passed by.

Weight comments

That lunchtime, Bailey had some biscuits and, according to witnesses, the 16-year-old made a throwaway comment about a fellow pupil's weight after a disagreement about who could have one.

Another 16-year-old pupil in the group inside the school took exception to this, and in return made an insulting comment about Bailey's mother's weight.

Bailey did not take it well, and challenged the comment.

Image copyright Police handout
Image caption Bailey Gwynne had some biscuits which led to an exchange of words

What could otherwise have been regarded as the usual banter between teenagers took a sinister turn.

A folding knife, with a gold and green handle and a 3in-long blade, was produced from a blazer pocket of the pupil who had insulted Bailey's mother.

During the tussle, the one and only penetration of the blade pierced Bailey's heart.

A teacher quickly stopped the fight, but no-one yet understood the full implications of what had happened.

Seconds later, as Bailey was being led away, a trail of blood could be seen, and he staggered towards a wall and collapsed.

'There's been a fight'

Word quickly began to spread about what was happening.

Head teacher Anna Muirhead was in her office.

A colleague appeared at the door and said: "Anna, there's been a fight. It looks serious. We've called an ambulance."

She started to make her way to the scene, and saw a pupil sitting slightly curled up, who was "obviously distraught".

She asked what was wrong, and he indicated that something was his fault.

Image copyright Crown Office Production
Image caption The knife was later found in a bin in the school

The head teacher said: "I took about one step and I saw Bailey lying on the ground and various members of staff kneeling beside him.

"I knew immediately it was very, very serious. He was very, very pale, by that time they had his shirt open and I could see it was very serious."

A paramedic first responder was at the school within minutes, and began working on Bailey.

But his heart stopped, his condition never improved, and he was declared dead after arriving at hospital by ambulance.

'Didn't fit in'

As for his killer, he had regularly taken a knife and knuckleduster to school to try to act "cool" and "tough" as he felt he didn't "fit in".

He was soon wiping blood from his hands with a tissue and phoning his parents to confess, as the gravity of the situation sank in.

"I know he's going to die, I know he's going to die" he commented to a teacher.

When he was charged with murder the following day after a police interview, he sobbed.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Head teacher Anna Muirhead said the school has a policy about dangerous items not being allow
Image caption The stabbing led to an outpouring of grief

He told police he did not mean to stab Bailey.

"I am being charged with murder?" he asked.

He had said he tried to take Bailey's blazer off when he collapsed to try to stem the bleeding.

"I did try and save him", he said.

The school had a policy that nothing dangerous could be taken to school.

Ms Muirhead said the ruling was necessary as young people could get "het up", with "silly arguments", and "if you had a knife it could be a temptation".

And so it proved.

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