Flower tributes as Soham trial starts

THE final 12 jury members who will decide if Ian Huntley killed best friends Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman will todaybe sworn in at courtroom number one in the Old Bailey.

THE final 12 jury members who will decide if Ian Huntley killed best friends Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman will todaybe sworn in at courtroom number one in the Old Bailey.

Soham accused Huntley came face-to-face with the people who will try him on double child murder charges yesterday at the formal start of his trail, and that of his ex-girlfriend Maxine Carr.

The alleged killer of 10-year-old schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman was in the dock yesterdayas 25 people were randomly selected from 100 potential jurors.

Twenty nine-year-old former caretaker Huntley has always denied the murders.

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Carr, 26, a former classroom assistant at the girls' primary school, denies one charge of conspiring to pervert the course of justice and two charges of assisting an offender.

The former couple were in the dock together - separated by a prison officer - for the jury selection process.

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Trial judge Mr Justice Moses told the 100 potential jurors, who filled the well of the court: "Serving on a jury in any case is probably the most important obligation any citizen has to undertake."

If they had friends or family who lived in Soham or who were involved in the investigation they would be disqualified from serving on the jury, he said.

He urged them to ask themselves if there was any reason why they could not serve as jurors in the case, which is due to last until January.

Seventeen women and eight men were sent home to consider whether they could serve as jurors.

Mr Justice Moses said: "There is something very important I have to say to you. Twelve of you will be trying a case, as you know, that concerns the death of two girls at Soham.

"Twelve of you that serve on the jury will, as I will direct you again, decide this case and the issues the prosecution will seek to prove on the basis of the evidence you hear from witnesses in this court and only on the basis of that evidence."

He warned them not to be swayed by the publicity, which surrounded the investigation.

"When you decide this case you will not decide it on the basis of what others say about it or on the basis of what you may have heard or read but on the basis of the evidence you hear in this court

"The reason I say this is that the 12 who will be chosen will form an impartial jury deciding the case on the evidence.

"When you get home it is inevitable when asking about the commitment you have given that someone will say 'What has happened to you today?'

"I can't stop you saying 'I've been chosen to sit on the Soham jury' but please do not discuss what you think you know about the case with them.

"They may have views, you may have views, none of them are relevant.

"Please do not discuss it. Do not enter a debate on the case."

They were also told to consider whether they would be able to sit on a jury through to the end of January.

The judge told the potential jurors that if they were in the final 12 they would be unable to return home on the night of Monday, November 10.

He said: "The court will go straight through, sitting until Tuesday, so you would be unable to go home."

He said the same may apply to jury deliberations at the end of the trial.

The original 100 potential jurors were told to consider whether they had any obligations, including elderly relatives or young children, why they had to be home at night. They were also told the court would not sit from Wednesday, December 24, until Monday, January 6.

The judge explained to them: "There will be 12 on the jury but 25 will be selected for this reason. Once the case starts, it would be quite disastrous if somebody said two days into the trial that they had got three weeks' holiday of a lifetime booked somewhere and was too frightened to say about it.

"It happens. It would be disastrous if it happened in this case.

"You will be going home not sworn as a jury and those 25 should think very carefully indeed and whether their commitment to serve on the jury is a commitment they are able to fulfil."

The disappearance of the two best friends on August 4 last year triggered one of the biggest manhunts ever seen in Britain.

Their bodies were found in an overgrown ditch in Lakenheath, 13 days later.

The girls' parents Kevin Wells, 40, and his wife Nicola, 36, and Sharon Chapman, 43, and her husband Leslie, 52, made public pleas for their safe return.

They walked to court together and paused briefly to be photographed before entering the courthouse yesterday.

Mr and Mrs Wells arrived hand-in-hand and all four wore Remembrance Day poppies. They looked tense as they approached the Old Bailey, flanked by their police liaison officers.

Outside the courthouse flowers and other tributes were left by well-wishers.

A granite cross was leant against the wall of the building with two dolls - one fair-haired like Holly and the other dark like Jessica - were tied to it with a gold angel.

A message attached read: "To Jessica and Holly, the Lord said suffer not little children come to me."

Five bouquets of flowers bore messages from people from across Britain and a teddy bear wrapped in a Manchester United scarf carried the message: "Holly and Jessica rest in peace."

One of the bouquets, an arrangement of lilies, pink daisies and other flowers, bore a card saying: "From Manchester United Supporters and Players".

Both youngsters were devoted fans of the football club and were wearing their matching Manchester United shirts when they vanished.

Richard Latham QC, prosecuting, is expected to set out the Crown's case of how they died on Wednesday, when the trial begins in earnest.

Stephen Coward QC will defend Huntley, and Carr will be represented by Michael Hubbard QC.

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