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Winterton school stabbing: Elisha Burkill 'diagnosed with autism'

Winterton Community Academy
Image caption The attack happened at Winterton Community Academy in September

A teenage girl who stabbed a school support worker in a "ferocious" attack has autism, a court has heard.

Elisha Burkill, 16, knifed Joy Simon, 61, in the face and chest at Winterton Community Academy, Scunthorpe.

Burkill had admitted wounding with intent and possessing a bladed article and was sentenced at Hull Crown Court in February to seven years in custody.

Her lawyers are now challenging the sentence at the Court of Appeal, claiming it was too harsh.

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Her barrister, Richard Lunn, told the court, sitting London, that "knives in school, as a matter of public importance, must be dealt with severely".

However, he said that on the other side of that "lay the problem of undiagnosed mental health problems in the young".

"This was at the very crux of what led her to act in such an abhorrent way, two days past her 16th birthday," Mr Lunn said.

'Issue of dangerousness'

Burkill was initially charged with attempted murder after the attack in September but the court in Hull accepted the lesser wounding charge last December.

As well as her custodial term, Burkill was told she would serve five years on licence following her release.

At the time of the attack she had had no contact with mental health services but had a long history of a depressive illness, the court heard.

Mr Lunn said Burkill has since been diagnosed with autism and severe depression.

He asked for the appeal hearing to be adjourned so a new psychiatric report can be prepared.

Granting the adjournment, Lady Justice Hallett asked to be informed how Burkill was responding to treatment.

"Obviously, that goes very much to the issue of dangerousness," she added.

A date for the resumed hearing has yet to be set.

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