'Highly intelligent' schoolboy jailed for life for attempting to kill 12-year-old girl by 'gutting her like a pig' after she spurned sexual advances

Cameron Cleland lured the girl to a secluded Yorkshire lane where he tried to kill her with a blunt pen-knife

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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the Apple Watch for you? Well, it depends if you want it for the fitness tech, or for the style
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace