Soham murder accused in 'suicide bid'

THE school caretaker accused of murdering two schoolgirls and dumping their bodies in Suffolk was in a coma last night after an apparent suicide bid.Ian Huntley was transferred to hospital from top security prison HMP Woodhill, in Milton Keynes, at around 4am yesterday .

THE school caretaker accused of murdering two schoolgirls and dumping their bodies in Suffolk was in a coma last night after an apparent suicide bid.

Ian Huntley was transferred to hospital from top security prison HMP Woodhill, in Milton Keynes, at around 4am yesterday .

It is understood he was found having a fit in his cell after taking an apparent overdose of his medication, and was in a coma on his arrival at hospital.

The 29-year-old is charged with murdering 10-year-old best friends, Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman. The Soham girls' bodies were discovered in a ditch near RAF Lakenheath.


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The caretaker, who worked at Soham Village College, has admitted conspiring to pervert the course of justice in connection with the deaths, but denied murder during a hearing two months ago at the Old Bailey, in London.

Huntley is believed to have been receiving medication for some time.

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Although refusing to comment on speculation he had taken an overdose, a Prison Service spokeswoman said: "We can confirm that Ian Huntley was taken to an outside hospital at 4am this morning following a serious incident of self-harm.

"As is normal Prison Service practice, a thorough investigation has begun into the circumstances surrounding this incident. Ministers are being kept informed."

Holly and Jessica vanished last August, and were last seen walking near their homes in Soham, Cambridgeshire.

Their disappearance thrust the tiny village into the media spotlight, with attention switching to Lakenheath two weeks later when the girls' bodies were discovered near to a viewing area popular with planespotters, which overlooks the American air base's runways.

Cambridgeshire Police, which investigated the murders, said in a statement: "We are aware that a prisoner from HMP Woodhill has been taken ill, and we are currently liasing with the Prison Service to establish the details of the incident."

Prison Service officials asked that the hospital not be identified.

Mark Leech, editor of the Prison's Handbook, said: "He will have the highest possible level of security, and officials will want to get him back to prison as soon as possible."

Huntley and former girlfriend Maxine Carr are due to stand trial for their alleged involvement in the girls' killings on October 6.

Carr, 26, who was a teaching assistant with Holly and Jessica's class at St Andrew's Primary School, Soham, denies two charges of assisting an offender and one of conspiring to pervert the course of justice.

She is currently remanded in custody at Holloway Prison, north London, and was herself transferred to hospital late last year when she required treatment for a long-standing eating disorder.

Commenting on the news, the Rev Tim Alban Jones, vicar of St Andrew's Church in Soham, said: "Obviously this is a very worrying development for everyone concerned, but our thoughts throughout all of this have been for the families of Holly and Jessica."

He added that the community in Soham was "very shocked".

"We didn't think this would have happened because he has been in a secure unit," added Rev Alban Jones.

Following his arrest, Huntley underwent initial assessments at Rampton high security hospital in Nottinghamshire under the Mental Health Act, but was later deemed fit to stand trial.

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