Maxine Carr: The teenage anorexic who loved working with children and nights on the town

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Maxine Carr was no stranger to mendacity. She lied to provide Ian Huntley with an alibi, she lied about her lack of qualifications on her application to become a teaching assistant at Soham's St Andrew's primary school, and she lied to mislead those looking for Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.

Such was her tenacity that during police questioning in which her alibi was challenged that she embellished her lies to the point of describing to detectives how she had cooked roast beef for her partner on the night the girls were murdered in the house she shared with him, and what television programmes they had watched.

Born Maxine Capp on 16 February 1977, she grew up on the outskirts of the pleasant Lincolnshire village of Keelby. The daughter of Alfred Capp - an agricultural labourer who left home when she was a toddler - she and her sister Hayley were raised by their mother Shirley in a small redbrick semi-detached home, with their grandparents just down the road.

Far from academic, she left Keelby County Primary School and later Healing Comprehensive without any qualifications. But her school career was not completely undistinguished.

At the age of 12, she volunteered for a community programme run by Humberside police, tidying local park areas and was rewarded with an adventure holiday in Wales.

Her teenage years, however, saw a transition as she developed anorexia. Her weight dropped to six stone and her condition became so severe that she had to be hospitalised. It was an illness that would continue to plague her through adulthood while her desire to stay in control also developed into a compulsive cleaning habit.

When she was 19, she moved with her mother and sister to an ugly, garishly-painted flat in the middle of Grimsby and worked alongside Mrs Capp in the meal department of B factory at the Young's Bluecrest fish processing plant.

In the evenings, mother and daughter would go to the Wine Pipe pub in Grimsby where the landlord remembers her as quiet and sober - "not gobby".

While she might sing karaoke, she was often a shy figure beside her mother, and was always required to be home by 9pm if she went elsewhere.

But others have different recollections. One of her first boyfriends, Paul Selby, a 31-year-old scaffolder, described her to one newspaper as a "Jekyll and Hyde".

Carr, who loved motorcycles, was timid and dressed in dowdy clothes by day, he said, but drink would see her turn into a possessive, angry woman. While she still had some contact with her father, in a strange parallel with Huntley she changed her name - first to Benson and later to Carr - some say to distance herself from him.

A later boyfriend, Jason Wink, a 25-year-old factory worker, explained how the frumpy garb was replaced by red lipstick and stilettos at night. A few of her favourite double vodka and cokes would see Carr dancing on tables and flashing the bumble bee tattoo on her breast.

On the weekend that Holly and Jessica went missing, she was said to be pursuing men as she went out drinking with her mother in the local pubs.

Carr was seen "kissing and cuddling" with Mark Thomas, who was then only 17.

The towering 6ft 5in rugby player was eight years her junior but Carr, who was 5ft 2in, was seen wrapped around him in a pub. She continued writing to him while she was on remand in Holloway.

Even Huntley described how she became "loud and flirty" once the alcohol flowed.

But there was inner steel. When Carr stood up in the witness stand to give evidence during the trial and proclaimed her name loudly across the court, she gave no impression of being the victim of a controlling man.

On her application form for St Andrew's primary school in Soham, Carr - who had always dreamed of being a teacher - had written: "I am an honest, reliable, hard-working and punctual person ... confident to work under pressure and deal with any problem which may arise."

She also lied about her qualifications. There was an immaturity about her that teachers at St Andrew's primary school picked up on. While she obviously loved working with the young children, she became inappropriately close to them, obviously basking in their admiration.

In Soham, Carr gave every impression of wanting to settle down and have a family of her own. But in Grimsby, she loved nothing better than going to watch the local bands on drunken nights out.

It was during one such night in February 1999 - at Hollywood's nightclub - that she was to meet Huntley and begin a turbulent relationship that would eventually lead her to the dock of the Old Bailey's court number one as a vilified co-accused in a terrible crime.

The sentence

Maxine Carr could be freed next month, but police would have to protect her from vigilantes.

Carr, 26, was jailed for three and a half years for conspiring to pervert justice. She qualifies for release after serving half of her sentence, including her 16 months on remand. But she can also seek a further 135-day cut for non-dangerous offenders who must wear an electronic tag.