'Triad' gang member accused of killing head

An Old Bailey jury heard this week how London headteacher Philip Lawrence was stabbed to death as he tried to protect one of his pupils from attack by a gang of would-be Triads.

Mr Lawrence's death last December raised serious fears about school security and prompted the Government to set up a working group of teachers, parents, police and government agencies. Its 22 recommendations were published in May and many of the proposals have already been acted upon.

Police powers to stop and search children in schools for offensive weapons came into force on September 1. The Government recently commissioned the Suzy Lamplugh Trust to research aspects of personal safety in education; and a national conference on security will be held in December.

The fatal stabbing of Mr Lawrence brought about a change to the Offensive Weapons Bill, making it illegal to carry knives or other offensive weapons on school premises.

As the trial opened on Monday, the prosecution said Mr Lawrence was a "genuinely good man" whose main preoccupation was the safety of his pupils, for which he paid with his life.

The 16-year-old youth accused of his murder was one of a group of 12 youths who arrived at St George's RC School in Maida Vale, west London, intending to attack one of the pupils.

When Mr Lawrence "peaceably" confronted their leader outside the school gates he was stabbed in the chest by the youth acting "with a mixture of bravado and adrenalin", said John Bevan, for the prosecution.

The trial continues and is scheduled to end on October 18.

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