Carr death threats revealed as press fails to lift injunction

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The Independent Online

Maxine Carr was released from jail yesterday and began living her new life facing a series of death threats.

Maxine Carr was released from jail yesterday and began living her new life facing a series of death threats.

The former teaching assistant received the warnings in the run-up to her release from a jail term for providing a false alibi to her former boyfriend, the Soham murderer Ian Huntley. One said she would be dead by tomorrow while another referred to "gun-down day". The police are investigating the letters and trying to find out who sent them.

The intimidation was revealed by Carr's lawyers as a High Court upheld a wide-ranging gagging order that prevents any reporting of her identity and her new life. The temporary injunction had been challenged by the rival newspaper groups owning The Sun and the Daily Mirror.

Carr, 27, went into hiding yesterday after being released on probation having served half of a 42-month sentence.

A briefcase containing vital details of her release was stolen from a Home Office civil servant's car on Thursday but Scotland Yard said they had arested a 20-year-old man in connection with the theft.

Edward Fitzgerald QC, the barrister representing Carr said that on 10 May a letter was sent to his client while in prison saying: "You will be dead in six days." Earlier, on 23 April, another threat was made referring to "gun down day". Mr Fitzgerald said that until then a number of threats and abusive letters had been sent to Carr, but none were specific.

He said of the last two letters: "These threats are being taken seriously and being investigated by the police and they are taking steps to protect her."

Carr is expected to be placed in a police safe house before being moved to a council flat or house in the Humberside area. She will be given special protection from possible attack by members of the public.

Mr Fitzgerald was defending an interim court order, granted in private by Mr Justice Eady on Thursday, which bans any details being published of Carr's whereabouts, appearance or movements "until further notice". It could mean that her identity and movements are protected for the rest of her life.

The media did not challenge the issue of publication but said that the injunction was too wide in its stance on the soliciting of information. They argued that the media needed to monitor where Carr was and what she was doing as there was a public interest in knowing whether, for example, she was seeking employment in a school.

Carr was jailed lying to police about her whereabouts on the weekend in August 2002 when Huntley murdered Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman in Soham, Cambridgeshire.

Mr Fitzgerald argued: "The only way to prevent exposing her [Carr] to risk is to prevent the press going around asking where she is and offering inducements to inform where she is or maybe the information is volunteered. The more encouragement there is to find out where she is, the greater the physical risk to her. That is our concern."

He said that unlike previous cases of people being offered anonymity ­ Mary Bell, the child killer, and Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, the killers of James Bulger ­ Carr had not killed anyone. "The risks she is exposed to are totally disproportionate to her crime," he said.

The High Court ruled that the injunction, which also bans reporters trying to obtain information about the proposed identity and whereabouts of Carr, should continue until a full two-day hearing after 8 June.

Anthony Hayden QC, for the probation service, said reports showed that Carr was a "vulnerable and damaged personality, ill-equipped to withstand the vicissitudes of life".