Silence would be Maxine Carr's best protection

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There were those who felt that the three- and-a-half-year sentence handed down to Maxine Carr for providing the Soham murderer, Ian Huntley, with a false alibi was too lenient. And there were those who felt - a view shared by this paper - that it was probably about right. This judgement reflected, at least in part, the recognition that Ms Carr's sentence would not end with her release. In some respects, the prison sentence was only the beginning. The years of freedom stretching out before her were always likely to be as hard, if not harder, on her than the 21 months she spent in a cell.

There were those who felt that the three- and-a-half-year sentence handed down to Maxine Carr for providing the Soham murderer, Ian Huntley, with a false alibi was too lenient. And there were those who felt - a view shared by this paper - that it was probably about right. This judgement reflected, at least in part, the recognition that Ms Carr's sentence would not end with her release. In some respects, the prison sentence was only the beginning. The years of freedom stretching out before her were always likely to be as hard, if not harder, on her than the 21 months she spent in a cell.

The truth of this forecast was underlined at the weekend when Ms Carr, apparently on her own initiative, gave a newspaper reporter a piece of her mind about what she saw as her continued vilification by sections of the media. She was especially concerned to banish the notion that she was living a life of luxury at public expense and stressed her feeling of insecurity, saying that she never stopped looking over her shoulder. She also contrasted the way in which she believed she was still being demonised, while Huntley - the convicted murderer - was rarely mentioned.

Ms Carr's sense of injustice was palpable; the temptation for her to speak out in her own defence had clearly been great. Nor, it appears, did the reporter break the strict injunction that the courts imposed on her release. No clues were given as to her new identity or location and she surely has the same right as anyone else to free speech.

Whether she was wise to speak out, however - even as briefly and spontaneously as she apparently did - must be highly questionable. The injunction was granted, amid much public controversy, for one purpose and one purpose alone: to protect her. The more she draws attention to her old self, the more that protection will be compromised. The "life" sentence she is serving now that she is out of prison may be out of all proportion to the crime she actually committed. But by breaking her cover to complain, Ms Carr risks forfeiting the slivers of public sympathy that remain and plays into the hands of those who would wish her harm.

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