Soham jury retires after asking for second look at Huntley's bath

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The Independent Online

The jury at the Soham murder trial will resume its deliberations on Monday after being sent home yesterday.

The seven women and five men charged with deciding the innocence or guilt of Ian Huntley and his former partner Maxine Carr spent five hours in discussion after retiring to consider verdicts.

Mr Huntley, 29, denies the murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman while admitting conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. Miss Carr, 26, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of assisting an offender and one of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

The six-week trial has heard Mr Huntley admit the 10-year-olds died in his house on 4 August 2002. He claimed Holly accidentally drowned and Jessica was smothered to death as he tried to stop her screaming. Along with Miss Carr, the former caretaker insisted she had been upstairs in their bathroom that night, when she was really in Grimsby. She later told the jury that she lied to protect the man she loved from being "fitted up", convinced he was not involved in the girls' disappearance.

Shortly after being asked to retire, the jury asked to view again the bath taken from the couple's home at College Close, in Soham. They asked for a tape measure and straight edge to conduct the examination.

The defence had initially said the bath contained 18in of water when Holly fell into it, a figure questioned by Home Office pathologist Nat Carey who said the overflow was at 11in. Mr Huntley revised the height to six to eight inches insisting there had been a miscommunication between him and his legal team.

Yesterday, Mr Justice Moses spent less than an hour summing up the case. Referring to the moment when Miss Carr vented her fury at her former lover while giving evidence, the judge told the jury not to place any emphasis on her suggestion that he had been a controlling and abusive partner. "We are not having a trial abut what their relationship was like so don't start speculating about that. Obviously their feelings are different now," he said.

Earlier, the judge gave the jury a series of 12 questions they might wish to consider. He offered them the option of gross negligence manslaughter when considering Holly's death, if they concluded Mr Huntley's account of events were true. The judge added that they should only consider the two charges of assisting an offender against Miss Carr if they were convinced Mr Huntley was guilty of murder.