I had no choice with Huntley, says Carr

Maxine Carr turned to her former fiancé in the dock at the Old Bailey yesterday and said she would not take the blame for what "that thing in the box" did to Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.

Ms Carr, 26, broke down under cross-examination by Richard Latham QC, for the prosecution, when he accused her of lying to make her own situation better. She wept as she said: "I don't need to put my position in a better light, I know exactly what I have done, sir. I have come into this witness box to say what I have done and I am not going to be blamed for what that thing in the box has done to me or those children."

She told the Soham murder trial that an abusive and controlling Huntley left her no choice but to provide him with a false alibi. Ms Carr insisted, as evidence in the case came to a close, that she had been pushed into a corner by the man she loved. She agreed it had been wrong to lie to police, misleading an investigation into the disappearance of the 10-year-old girls. But she insisted she believed the girls had left her house on 4 August 2002 alive and well. "They went away happy and laughing, that was what he said. They were alive when they left my house because that man said so."

Mr Huntley, 29, denies murdering the girls, and Ms Carr denies assisting an offender and conspiracy to pervert justice. Mr Huntley told the court he invited the girls into his house when Holly had a nosebleed. She died accidentally in the bath, he claimed, and Jessica was smothered as he tried to stop her screaming.

The girls' disappearance in the Cambridgeshire town last year led to Britain's biggest missing persons hunt. Their decomposed bodies were found in a ditch near Lakenheath air base in Suffolk, 13 days later. Closing speeches in the trial are expected on Monday.