Huntley charged with rape in 1998

Click to follow

Ian Huntley, who is charged with the murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, faced a rape charge in 1998, his Old Bailey murder trial heard today.

The jury heard details of a police statement made by his ex-girlfriend Maxine Carr on 17th August last year after the couple were both arrested on suspicion of the murders of the Soham girls.

In the statement, Carr said: "The reason why I told the police I was at home was because my partner Ian, he was accused in 1998 of attacking a girl, of raping a girl."

She said the case went to court and that he was "acquitted" but that he subsequently suffered "a nervous breakdown".

Mr Huntley, aged 29, denies the double murder of the schoolgirls but has admitted one charge of conspiring to pervert the course of justice.

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

Earlier today, the jury heard a pathologist cast doubt on the school caretaker's account of how they died.

Home Office pathologist Nat Cary said it was "unlikely at the least" Holly could have drowned in Huntley's bath as a result of a fall.

He also expressed surprise that there was no evidence of Holly's blood on her top or elsewhere if she had gone to the bathroom because of a severe nosebleed, as Huntley claims.

The Old Bailey jury heard former caretaker Huntley's version of events for the first time yesterday.

His lawyer Stephen Coward QC said Huntley claimed Holly died after falling into his water-filled bath as he tried to treat her for a nosebleed.

Jessica died as Huntley put his hands over her mouth to try to stop her screams, the court heard.

The admissions yesterday came as Dr Cary gave evidence about the state of the girls' bodies when they were found, 13 days after they vanished on 4th August last year.

The jury has heard that Huntley admits putting the two lifeless 10-year-olds in his red Ford Fiesta and driving them to the remote ditch near Lakenheath, Suffolk, where their bodies were found.

The prosecution alleges that Huntley murdered the two girls, but says it cannot put forward a definitive version of events after they entered his home, sometime after 6.30pm on Sunday 4th August.

Dr Cary said yesterday Huntley's version of events had never been suggested to him before and he was given permission to study it last night and discuss it with the forensics officers who examined Huntley's house.

Today Dr Cary told the court that drowning in bathrooms usually happened when people were drunk or on drugs.

He added that he was not aware of any previous cases where someone was drowned in such a confined space when there were two other people present.

He continued: "It does seem unlikely at the least that a fit 11-year-old girl (sic) could have slipped into a pre-run bath of water and drowned in the presence of two others.

"Why no rescue of Holly?

"Drowning would take some time, it's not instantaneous.

"The restraint, the covering of the nose and mouth of Jessica prevented her, I would suggest, from being able to rescue her friend from the bath, if that's what happened."

Dr Cary also questioned the claim that Holly had suffered a nosebleed.

He said: "Most members of the jury would have had experience either of themselves having a nosebleed or someone else and there is a tendency for the blood to contaminate the hand and for blood to drip on to objects or structures where the person is present."

He added: "In particular ... I would expect someone dressed in a top to bleed down on to the top."

Dr Cary said that his understanding was that Holly's top "was never found to be contaminated by blood, such as would be expected from a nosebleed".

He added: "If that top, contaminated with blood, went into a bath full of water, would that wash the blood out?"

"My understanding is that such clothing simply soaked in water should still test positive by the sensitive techniques used for blood testing."

Dr Cary said he found it surprising that there had not been any contamination of the scene by blood or contamination of the deceased's clothing.

The expert said that in his opinion the blood-staining evidence would seem to be against the scenario supposed of a nosebleed and of immersion in bath water.

Huntley, 29, a former caretaker at Soham Village College, denies murdering Holly and Jessica, but has admitted conspiring to pervert the course of justice.

His ex-girlfriend Maxine Carr, 26, a former classroom assistant at the girls' primary school, denies conspiring to pervert the course of justice and two charges of assisting an offender.

The prosecution alleges she gave Huntley a false alibi for the day the girls went missing, Sunday August 4 last year. Their bodies were found 13 days later.