Soham girls' parents watch as murder trial begins

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The murder trial of Soham accused Ian Huntley got under way today as the process of selecting a jury began.

Twelve members of the jury will have to judge if Huntley murdered schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, as the prosecution allege.

They will be chosen from 100 potential jurors gathered in historic courtroom number one at the Old Bailey today. The 100 potential jurors brought to the court today will be whittled down to 25 today and the final 12 will be sworn in tomorrow.

The parents of the two 10-year-olds watched from the back of the courtroom as the process began.

It was the formal start of the trial of Huntley, 29, and his former girlfriend Maxine Carr.

Huntley, 29, a former caretaker at Soham Village College, has always denied their murder.

But at an earlier court hearing he admitted a single charge of conspiring to pervert the course of justice.

Carr, 26, a former classroom assistant at the girls' primary school, denies one charge of conspiring to pervert the course of justice and two charges of assisting an offender.

The parents of the two schoolgirls arrived earlier at the historic courthouse together.

Kevin and Nicola Wells arrived hand-in-hand and paused briefly outside the building with Jessica's parents Sharon and Leslie Chapman.

All four wore Remembrance Day poppies and looked tense as they approached the Old Bailey, flanked by police liaison officers.

The disappearance of the couples' daughters on August 4 last year triggered one of the biggest manhunts ever seen in Britain.

Their bodies were found in an overgrown ditch in Lakenheath, Suffolk, 13 days later.

Huntley and Carr were led up into the dock, where they sat with a security officer between them.

Both have been in custody since their arrests on August 17 last year, the same day the girls' bodies were found 17 miles away from Soham.

The schoolgirls' disappearance captured the attention of the nation for weeks.

They had been playing at Holly's home during the afternoon while the Wells family enjoyed a barbecue.

Richard Latham QC, prosecuting, is expected to set out the Crown's case of how they died on Wednesday, when the trial begins in earnest.

Stephen Coward QC will defend Huntley, and Carr will be represented by Michael Hubbard QC.

The trial judge is Mr Justice Moses.

Outside the Old Bailey four bouquets of flowers were left in tribute to the girls.

One, an arrangement of lilies, pink daisies and other flowers, bore the card "From Manchester United Supporters and Players".

Both youngsters were devoted fans of the football club.

Another bouquet of white daisies and pink roses was in the shape of a cross.

A T-shirt was also propped against the wall of the court.

The white T-shirt had red writing on its chest which said: "In loving memory of Holly and Jessica from the nation and Reading Rock Festival. RIP."