Huntley is guilty of double murder

EVIL school caretaker Ian Huntley was today jailed for life for the brutal murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.As he faced up to serving the rest of his life behind bars, Mr Justice Moses told him: "You are the only person who knows how you murdered them.

EVIL school caretaker Ian Huntley was today jailed for life for the brutal murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.

As he faced up to serving the rest of his life behind bars, Mr Justice Moses told him: "You are the only person who knows how you murdered them."

He said Huntley "showed no regret' after the murders and had increased the suffering of his victims' families with his lies and deceit.

Huntley's accomplice, former fiance Maxine Carr was sentenced to three and a half years for conspiring with Huntley to pervert the course of justice.

She will serve half that sentence and time in custody will be taken into account.

Addressing Huntley the judge said: "You murdered them both, you were the only person who knows how you murdered them.'

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The judge said Huntley had shown "persistent cruelty' and "merciless cynicism'.

He said: "Your tears have never been for them, only for yourself.

"In your lies and manipulation up to this very day you have increased the suffering you have caused the two families.'

Addressing Maxine Carr he said: "You had plenty of opportunity to refuse to persist in a course of lying and deception. You chose not to.

"If you had the slightest true regard for those girls or families you would have told the truth.'

The jury at the Old Bailey found Huntley guilty on both counts of murder after retiring to consider their verdicts four days ago.

The jury of seven women and five men rejected 29-year-old Huntley's claim that the best friends died accidentally at his home, 5 College Close, in Soham on August 4 last year.

Huntley, the caretaker at Soham Village College, claimed the 10-year-olds, wearing their Manchester United shirts went inside the college-owned three-bedroom detached house because Holly had a nosebleed.

He tried to convince the jury during more than two days of testimony that Holly drowned in the bath and that he killed Jessica as he tried to silence her screams.

But the Old Bailey jury took over 17 hours to conclude he was lying.

The jurors knew Huntley had once been charged with raping a teenager - a charge that was later dropped.

What they did not know was that he was also accused of indecently assaulting an 11-year-old and having sex with a string of other schoolgirls.

An inquiry is under way to establish how a sexual predator with a history of targeting under-age girls managed to get a job as a school caretaker.

The authorities involved have admitted that the system of checks failed, allowing a man who had come to the attention of Humberside Police on ten occasions to get the job.

In fact, police searching for Holly and Jessica only found out about the rape charge when members of the public rang them.

Huntley's tissue of lies in the witness box means that only he knows exactly why he killed the girls on that summer's evening in the quiet Cambridgeshire town.

The prosecution claimed he had a sexual motive - a belief supported by his sordid past.

But his efforts to erase all evidence of his hideous crimes, aided by his besotted fiancee Maxine Carr, meant detectives were unable to prove just what happened when two innocent girls fell into his clutches.

Carr, 26, who worked with Huntley's victims as a teaching assistant, lied to protect her lover of three years.

She claimed she was unaware of his crime, denying a charge of conspiring to pervert the course of justice and two counts of assisting an offender.

And she turned on her former lover when she gave evidence during the 28-day trial shouting: "I'm not going to be blamed for what that thing in that box has done to me or those children.'

Carr was found not guilty of assisting Huntley in relation to the deaths of Jessica and Holly.

But she was found guilty of conspiring with Huntley to pervert the course of justice.

The girls' parents - Leslie Chapman, 52, and his wife Sharon, 44, and Nicola Wells, 36, and her husband Kevin, 40, were in court to hear the verdicts having sat through most of the trial.

All the guilty verdicts were reached by a majority of 11-1 by the jury within an hour of the judge telling them he would accept majority decisions.

As the jury filed back in to deliver their verdicts not a sound could be heard around the public gallery or throughout the court.

In the back row, the family of Holly Wells held hands and waited for what they had been desperate to hear - the jury foreman telling the court Huntley had been found guilty of both murders.

A hushed "yes' resounded around the courtroom.

For some of the relatives of Huntley's victims, the relief turned to tears as a 16-month long ordeal came to an end.

There was no response from Huntley as the guilty charges were read out.

His hands clasped in front of his body, he shifted slightly as he waited for the foreman to speak.

He stared straight ahead with no obvious signs of emotion as Carr looked down at the floor.

He slightly lowered his head when the second verdict of guilty was announced.

As Carr awaited her fate she bowed her head appearing to slightly nod as the words not guilty echoed around the courtroom in respect of the charges of assisting an offender.

Hands clasped in front of her body she held onto the sleeve of one of her arms nervously as she waited for the final count of conspiring to pervert the course of justice.

On hearing "guilty' she looked up slightly.

The judge sentenced Huntley after hearing from his counsel Stephen Coward QC that he had no representations to make in mitigation.

The judge turned to Huntley, telling him "stand up'.

He said: "Ian Kevin Huntley on the 4th of August 2002 you enticed two 10-year-old girls, Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman into your house.

"They were happy, intelligent and loyal.

"They were much loved by their families and all who knew them.

"You murdered them both. You are the one person who knows how you murdered them, you are the one person who knows why.

"You destroyed the evidence which showed no mercy and no regret.

"Once you killed one of them you had to kill the other in an attempt to avoid detection.

"On the 10th of August, six days later, you told the BBC that you were the last friendly face these two girls had to speak to.

"That was a lie which served to underline the persistent cruelty of your actions.'

Mr Justice Moses said it was not just the two families that had suffered but the community as well.

"The children you murdered were children whose lives brought joy to the community and whose deaths brought grief.'

Delivering his sentence the judge said: "On count one you will go to prison for life.'

He repeated the sentence for count two, adding: "You may go down.'

Carr's counsel Michael Hubbard QC pointed out she has already served 16 months in prison "which is equivalent of a two-year-eight-month sentence'.

He reminded the judge that he already expressed some concern about the length of time she had been held in custody.

Mr Hubbard said that Carr now faced an "unenviable future' and was "going to be blighted for years'.

He asked that such justice be done today that would allow her to be released.

Mr Justice Moses said the time would automatically be deducted from her sentence.

But he added she had lost her most significant mitigation point which would have been if she had pleaded guilty.

Before both counsel spoke prosecution had pointed out a legal technicality to the judge. From tomorrow the law will change allowing all prisoners facing mandatory life sentences to be informed by the Secretary of State the period they are expected to have to serve.

But Mr Coward told the judge he was content for sentencing to go ahead today rather than be put off until the law changes.