Maxine Carr's mother guilty of intimidation

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The Independent Online

The mother of Maxine Carr was today found guilty of intimidating a witness in the Soham murder trial. Shirley Capp, 61, made threats to Marion Westerman after she gave a statement to police investigating the disappearance and murder of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman at Soham, Cambridgeshire, in August 2002.

The jury, of six women and six men, took just over four hours at Sheffield Crown Court to find Capp guilty of one charge of intimidating a witness. Capp, wearing a light grey trouser suit, showed no emotion as the verdict was read out. Judge John Reddihough delayed sentencing Capp for pre-sentence reports, but warned the 61-year-old he would consider "all the options", including a custodial sentence.

The judge granted Capp bail on condition she assisted the probation service with its pre-sentence report. Capp was found guilty by a majority of 10-2. The jury was told that Capp threatened mother-of-three Ms Westerman during a confrontation at the defendant's home in Grimsby. During a heated argument, Capp told her: "You are dead, watch your back."

The court was told that Capp blamed Ms Westerman for the fact that her daughter, Maxine Carr, had been remanded in custody in Holloway Prison following her arrest with boyfriend Ian Huntley. Ms Westerman had told detectives she saw Carr and Huntley looking into the rear of a red car in Grimsby after the girls went missing. She said Carr was sobbing and Huntley looked pale and thin. Her statement was used by the prosecution in the subsequent Old Bailey trial.

During the trial at Sheffield Crown Court, Ms Westerman told the jury that Capp had threatened her when she went round to the defendant's house to "smooth the waters" regarding a neighbourly dispute over a cat. She said that Capp had blamed her that Carr was in prison. "She said I was a f****** liar. She also said in my statement I said that the bodies were in the boot of the car, but I didn't." She said she left the house "scared and frightened" with Capp still shouting abuse at her.

She added: "She said I was going to be dead if I went to court." The court was told Ms Westerman's evidence did not lead to the conviction of Carr on two counts of assisting an offender, of which she was acquitted. Huntley was convicted of two counts of murder and both he and Carr were found guilty of conspiring to pervert the course of justice.

Under questioning in the witness box, divorcee Capp told the jury she was besieged by the press after her daughter's arrest and this left her distressed and unable to leave her home. Capp explained that Ms Westerman let her take refuge in her house when the media storm engulfed her but she told the jury repeatedly: "I did not threaten Marion Westerman."

Outside the court, a spokeswoman for Humberside Police said: "Witness intimidation is a very serious offence and the judge has made that clear. "People who commit such offences seek to undermine the work of the police and courts. "It's our hope that the people involved in this case can now move on and put recent difficult times behind them."