A “highly intelligent” schoolboy has been sentenced to a minimum of seven years for attempting to murder a 12-year-old girl by “gutting her like a pig” with a blunt pen-knife after she spurned his sexual advances.
Cameron Cleland – a 16-year-old “straight-A” student from Bradford in West Yorkshire – lured the girl to a secluded lane where he stabbed her in the throat and tried to strangle her. Fortunately the attack was interrupted by a passing dog walker, who told the girl to run away.
Cleland is said to have become infatuated with the schoolgirl when she was only 11, contacting Childline to say he found his obsession with a much younger child “a bit weird”, and to express concern over his desire to rape her.
He bombarded the girl with text messages however, and, just a month before the attempted murder, threatened to kill himself if she refused to meet with him.
Cleland – who was described by teachers as “highly intelligent” and “slightly geeky with a keen interest in rowing” – subsequently hatched a “chilling” plan to rape and murder the girl after failing to come to terms with the rejection.
He was found to have researched various methods of murdering his victim using the internet, before deciding he would “gut her like a pig” – going as far as rehearsing his technique in a mirror.
Speaking to psychiatrists during questioning, Cleland said her blamed the girl for his emotional plight and had already come to terms with going to prison for the rest of his life had he succeeded in killing her.
Cleland – who is expected to receive straight A grades when his A-level results are released tomorrow – eventually managed to get the girl to agree to meet him on a secluded lane on April 21 of this year.
Prosecutor Michael Smith described how the girl “freaked out” when she saw the defendant walk towards her wearing a hood with his face partially covered.
Cleland is said to have told the 12-year-old she looked beautiful and demanded she go down a driveway with him so they could talk further. When she refused and backed away, he removed Cleland hands from his pockets and the victim could see he was wearing surgical gloves.
Cleland reportedly asked the victim is he was scaring her, before telling her “I am going to have to kill you” and attacking her throat with a pen-knife. Fortunately the knife was blunt so caused little damage, but Cleland changed his plan and began attempting to kill the girl by strangling her.
At some point during the attack the girl is thought to have passed out, but dog walker Angela Heap stumbled across the scene, finding Cleland sat astride the girl with his hands around her throat.
As the girl came round, Ms Heap told her to run home right away, but found her to be “weak, shaky and wobbly… and [under the impression] she was already dead.”
The court heard that Cleland spoke to a psychologist and a psychiatrist with “a chilling degree of candour”, but had refused to cooperate in police interviews. They had concluded that he was not mentally ill but could be in the early stages of some form of psychopathic condition.
Cleland sat impassively in the dock as Judge Jonathan Durham Hall told him: “The response to your rejection was chilling… Over a period of time you planned to kill her. You wanted to end her life at the age of 12. You armed yourself with a knife and surgical gloves and lured her out of her home”.
Jailing him for life with a minimum sentence of seven years, Judge Durham Hall said: “This cannot be passed off as a young man coping with sexual rejection and you have since expressed regret that you did not kill her…Your victim was distraught, confused and bewildered, and the trauma you have caused her is incalculable.”
He added: “No one could have known you were capable of such a cold-blooded attack and you have shown no empathy for your victim… The degree of risk you pose of causing the most serious harm, if not death, at this moment, is overwhelming.”
Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC lifted a ban on identifying Cameron Cleland at court on Tuesday. He also made a restraining order to protect the victim from the defendant.