'I killed Jessica - I just wanted quiet'

IAN Huntley was "cold and ruthless" as he disposed of the bodies of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, he admitted to his Old Bailey murder trial today.He lost his temper as he was accused of deliberately drowning Holly Wells, but said he did kill Jessica Chapman, describing how he suffocated her as he tried to silence her screams.

IAN Huntley was "cold and ruthless" as he disposed of the bodies of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, he admitted to his Old Bailey murder trial today.

He lost his temper as he was accused of deliberately drowning Holly Wells, but said he did kill Jessica Chapman, describing how he suffocated her as he tried to silence her screams.

He reluctantly outlined to the hushed courtroom how he rolled the lifeless bodies of the 10-year-olds down into a remote ditch, cut the girls' clothing from them and then torched them.

Huntley was in the witness box for almost five hours, in the second day of his evidence, and was cross-examined by prosecution lawyer Richard Latham QC.

He denied that he had ever intended to kill the schoolgirls, or that he "wanted them dead', insisting that Holly drowned in his bath in a series of accidents after suffering a nosebleed.

He denied he had held the blonde majorette under the water and "watched her drown' but conceded that he killed Jessica by starving her of oxygen.

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Mr Latham said: "You realised you had killed her?'

Huntley replied: "Yes.'

The lawyer asked: "You had killed her, hadn't you?'

Huntley's voice dropped to a whisper as he replied: "Yes.'

Huntley, 29, gestured from the witness box how his hand would have covered her mouth and blocked her nostrils to stop her screaming that he had pushed Holly into the bath, adding: "I just wanted some quiet.'

He denied losing his temper with the screaming girl and said he had not intended to kill her, but accepted she would have struggled and would not have died "in a moment'.

Mr Latham suggested he must have held the struggling girl for up to a minute, saying she would have been "fighting for her very life, for her last breath'.

The lawyer asked: "If you had given that girl the slightest chance she would have lived, wouldn't she?'

Huntley: "Yes.'

Mr Latham: "You didn't give her the slightest chance, did you?'

Huntley: "No.'

Mr Latham: "No, and that sort of thing doesn't happen accidentally does it Mr Huntley?'

Huntley: "I didn't mean to kill her.'

The defendant said yesterday that he accepted he was responsible for both deaths, but has never publicly said that he killed either girl.

Earlier, he told the court: "I would say that one died as a result of my inability to act and the other died as a direct result of my actions.'

Mr Latham said: "You wanted them both dead.'

Huntley replied: "I didn't want them both dead, I didn't want either of them dead.'

The former Soham Village College caretaker denied that he had deliberately lured the girls into the house on Sunday August 4 last year by telling them that his then girlfriend Maxine Carr - their former classroom assistant - was inside.

He furiously denied that he had wanted to get them into his bedroom and said he failed to react after Holly fell into the bath water because he was "frozen by panic' and needed to "collect his thoughts'.

Mr Latham said instinct dictated that he would have tried to rescue Holly, had she fallen in by accident.

Huntley lashed out in response, raising his voice and spitting out the words, saying: "In these circumstances it is very rational to know what you are doing.

"In those circumstances it is not so rational. Believe me, I know.'

In the most highly charged exchanges of the 21-day trial Mr Latham said: "You can be perfectly assertive when you want to Mr Huntley.'

Huntley: "Yes.'

Mr Latham: "You can get angry, can't you Mr Huntley?'

Huntley: "Yes.'

Mr Latham: "You just lost your temper with me, didn't you?'

Huntley: "That's because you ... you have your opinion.'

Mr Latham repeated: "You have just lost your temper with me, haven't you?'

Huntley: "Yes.'

Mr Latham: "Did you lose your temper with one of these girls on that Sunday evening?'

Huntley: "I had no reason to lose my temper.'

Mr Latham: "Did you become the assertive individual you became two minutes ago?'

Huntley: "No I did not.'

The defendant admitted he had been "cold and ruthless' as he disposed of their bodies by dumping them in the remote ditch near Lakenheath, Suffolk, where they were found 13 days later.

He denies the double child murder but has pleaded guilty to a single charge of conspiring to pervert the course of justice.

Carr, 26, denies the conspiracy charge and two counts of assisting an offender.

The prosecution alleges she gave him a false alibi for the day the girls died.

Huntley described how he had to bend the girls' legs to fit their bodies into the boot of his car, and rolled them down a bank into the ditch, where their severely decomposed remains were found 13 days later.

He cut off their clothes but insisted he had only been interested in removing all their clothing.

He denied that he had feared forensic examination could reveal their underwear had come into contact with his carpet, suggesting they had been at least partially undressed inside his house.

Mr Latham said: "You were behaving quite ruthlessly, weren't you Mr Huntley?'

Huntley: "Yes, what I did was ruthless.'

Mr Latham: "It was cold and ruthless.'

Huntley replied: "Yes.'

Mr Latham asked: "You did not care a bit for the two girls, did you?'

Huntley said: "That's not true.'

Mr Latham said: "They were no use to you any more.'

Huntley said: "They were never any use to me in the first place, not in the terms you mean.'

He said he accepted he had lied during the police investigation but denied that he had "played with the emotions' of the families of his alleged victims.

Huntley denied that he invented his entire defence after a "cold-blooded analysis' of the evidence against him and would "tailor' it accordingly.

He told how he had genuinely believed after his arrest that he was being framed by the "real killer' of the schoolgirls.

Huntley was facing cross-examination by the prosecution lawyer after telling the court yesterday that his mind had blanked out his memory of the girls dying in his house in Soham, Cambs, and his memory only returned after an attempted suicide in June this year.

He said that a secretly-taped conversation with his mother on October 23 last year, while he was in prison awaiting trial, was based on what he truly believed had happened and not a demonstration of how he planned to "dodge' the accusations against him.

Mr Latham said he had lied from day one of the investigation to try to cover his tracks and protect himself, inventing a "defence to fit the facts'.

He alleged that Huntley continued to change his story, even once the case had come to trial.

The lawyer said Huntley and Carr had taken part in an "alibi conspiracy' to try to conceal the truth.

He said Carr could not have failed to notice that their house and car had been subjected to a "very powerful clean' by the time she got back from Grimsby.

Huntley agreed she had told the same lie as him - that she was in Soham - but insisted she had done it to protect him and not to mislead the police.

The defendant admitted that Carr had agreed to the alibi plan after she knew the girls were in the house and had been upstairs, and that one of them had had a nosebleed.

But he said her choosing to say she was in the bath at the time the girls came to the house was "coincidence' and a "clever' way of explaining why she had not come to see them, and not designed to prop up his later account of how they died.

Mr Latham suggested to Huntley that his "shutting down' after the girls' deaths and blanking out what had happened was just a game.

Huntley replied: "You're disputing what a lot of doctors say ... what I'm saying is true.'

Addressing Huntley in the witness box, Mr Latham said: "You were going to keep this story up your sleeve and you thought you had an answer to the prosecution case, didn't you?'

Huntley replied that he had told his mother not to tell anyone what he had remembered because he had not yet been able to make a statement to the police.

Mr Latham went on: "This false memory syndrome is so sophisticated, isn't it, Mr Huntley, that you can remember now and acknowledge that everything you told the police, told the press, told your work colleagues, was a lie because the girls died in the house and yet when you were talking to your mother, you somehow believed everything you said?'

Huntley replied: "I genuinely didn't believe I had done anything wrong at that time.'

The case continues.

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