Huntley critically ill in hospital after taking suspected drug overdose in his prison cell

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The Independent Online

Ian Huntley, the caretaker charged with the murders of the Cambridgeshire schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, was critically ill in hospital last night after taking a suspected drug overdose while in his prison cell.

Staff at Woodhill prison in Buckinghamshire, one of the country's highest-security jails, found Mr Huntley having convulsions at 2.30am yesterday. He lapsed into a coma before reaching hospital.

Mr Huntley was under police guard last night in intensive care at an unnamed hospital. A Prison Service spokesman said: "Ian Huntley was taken to an outside hospital at 4am after a serious incident of self-harm. His condition is ... critical but stable. In line with normal practice, a thorough investigation has begun into the circumstances surrounding this incident."

An ambulance was called to the prison, near Milton Keynes, where Mr Huntley was given emergency treatment before being transferred to hospital. He was being held in Woodhill's close supervision unit, a "prison within a prison" that holds some of Britain's most dangerous prisoners, including Charles Bronson.

He was transferred to the prison last October from Rampton secure hospital, Nottinghamshire. He had been at Rampton for 50 days, having been sectioned under the Mental Health Act after his arrest. Psychiatrists told a court that he was not suffering from any mental illness and did not require hospital treatment. Mr Huntley is due to stand trial at the Old Bailey on 6 Octoberalongside his former girlfriend, Maxine Carr, 26. She denies two charges of assisting an offender and a count of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Mr Huntley denies two charges of murder but admits a charge of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Holly and Jessica disappeared from their homes in Soham on 4 August last year, sparking a huge police search. They were found dead a fortnight later in a ditch close to an RAF base at Lakenheath in Suffolk.