Carr escapes jail after admitting fraud

Maxine Carr was today given a three-year community rehabilitation order after admitting she lied to get jobs and claim social security benefits.

Judge Richard Pollard told Carr, the former fiancee of Soham murderer Ian Huntley, that she could have been sent to prison after admitting 20 allegations of deception.

But he said he felt it was in the public interest to place her under the supervision of the Probation Service until May 2007.

Judge Pollard was told that Carr, 27, had repeatedly lied to "obtain pecuniary advantage" between 1996 and 2002.

Prosecutor Richard Latham QC said she had falsely claimed £3,808 in jobseeker's allowance, income support and housing benefit.

But Michael Hubbard QC, for Carr, said the prosecution "beggared belief" and had the "hand of the Home Office all over it".

As Carr was appearing in court, sources close to the case confirmed that Carr will be let out of jail to start a new life on Friday after serving half her three-and-a-half year sentence handed down at the Old Bailey last December for giving Huntley a false alibi.

Carr, who comes from Grimsby, Humberside, lived with childkiller Ian Huntley in Soham, Cambridgeshire.

In December he was jailed for life for the murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, both 10, in August 2002. Carr was convicted of conspiring to pervert the course of justice and sentenced to 42 months in prison.

Judge Pollard told Carr today : "I could send you to prison for a further period. These were serious offences - offences which you admitted in interview and to which you have pleaded guilty.

"Although much has been said on your behalf today about the conduct of this case, there has been no application to stay it for any abuse of process.

"You are before the court on a legitimate indictment, properly prosecuted and to which you have entered pleas of guilty."

He added: "I've come to the conclusion that the public interest is best served by imposing on you a lengthy period of supervision."

He said a three-year community rehabilitation order was the maximum order of its kind he could impose.

"You will be supervised by the Probation Service," added the judge. "You must co-operate with them."

He made no orders for compensation and said the agencies which were victims of Carr's deceit were free to take legal action if they wished to.

Mr Latham told Nottingham Crown Court that the deception offences had come to light as a result of the Soham murder investigation.

He said under normal circumstances Carr would have been charged in the spring of 2003, but lawyers were anxious not to do anything that would affect the outcome of the Soham trial which began in the autumn of 2003.

He said the deception charges were reconsidered at the conclusion of the Soham trial and Carr was charged earlier this year.

Mr Latham said Carr was before the court on 20 counts.

Five related to her either obtaining pecuniary advantage or attempting to obtain pecuniary advantage by lying about her educational qualifications in job applications.

Two of the charges related to the summer of 2002, when she was living in Soham and working as a general assistant in the class at St Andrew's primary school where Holly and Jessica were pupils.

He said 15 of the charges related to her lying on benefit claims forms.

Twelve of the counts related to dishonest claims for housing benefit from North Lincolnshire Council when Carr was living with Huntley, 30.

One count related to a dishonest application for jobseeker's allowance while she was living with Huntley in Scunthorpe.

Two counts related to dishonest applications for income support while she was living with Huntley in Scunthorpe and in Soham.