Soham murders: why Maxine Carr has lifetime anonymity

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Maxine Carr gave her then-partner Ian Huntley – the killer of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman – a false alibi

The murders of 10-year-old friends Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman in Soham 20 years ago shook the country.

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School janitor Ian Huntley lured the couple into his home before killing them and, in a chilling turn of events, took part in the search for them.

The bodies of Holly and Jessica were found 10 miles east of Soham on August 17, 2002, almost two weeks after they went missing on August 4.

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Huntley was eventually tried and sentenced to at least 40 years of life imprisonment.

Orders of lifetime anonymity are rare and have only been granted to a small group of people, including Jamie Bulger’s killers Maxine Carr and Mary Bell.

His girlfriend Maxine Carr was sentenced to three and a half years in prison for providing him with a false alibi.

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Carr, then 22, had worked at the girls’ school and during the search for the couple she had even been interviewed by the media, where she held up a card Holly had made for her.

She had become notorious, but upon her release from prison, she was given a new identity.

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But why do some people get anonymity, who decides if they get it, and how common is it? Here’s everything you need to know.

What is lifetime anonymity and why is it granted?

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The orders are rare and have only been issued in a few cases. The majority of orders approved were for those convicted of serious crimes as children.

They are sometimes referred to as “Venables Orders,” after one of James Bulger’s killers who was issued one.

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Once the orders are in place, the person’s identity will remain secret for life.

Whether or not an order is granted is up to the High Court, and anyone disobeying the order could find themselves in court.

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Those seeking such orders must demonstrate that their lives would be at serious risk if their identities were revealed.

Holly Wells, left, and Jessica Chapman

Why would Maxine Carr remain anonymous?

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Carr served half of her sentence on conspiracy to tamper with the law and was paroled.

She lied to the police and said she was at Huntley’s when the girls went missing.

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However, Carr was actually 100 miles away in Grimsby at a nightclub. When questioned by police after the girls’ bodies were found, Carr was quick to confess.

According to the Grimsby Telegraph, she said: “I was pushed into a corner. Yes, I lied, but I got backed into a corner for it.”

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During the trial reports, she said of Huntley, “I will not be held responsible for what that thing in that box did to me or to those children.”

In 2005, Mr Justice Eady extended indefinitely an existing order prohibiting the publication of her whereabouts or the nature of her work. The lifetime anonymity order was in place to protect her new identity.

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Her defense argued during a hearing that there was “overwhelming reason” for issuing the injunction “against the whole world.” Carrs QC had said there was a “real and significant risk of injury or worse – death” if an order was not placed.

Mr Justice Eady said when the order was issued that “there was a need to protect life and limb and mental health”.

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Ian Huntley was found guilty of the murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman in 2003 and sentenced to two life terms. He was held at Wakefield Prison until January 2008 when he was transferred to HMP Frankland.

Who else has it?

Last year, two women who murdered 39-year-old Angela Wrightson in Hartlepool in 2014, aged 13 and 14, were granted anonymity for life.

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Whilst a man known only as RXG, who at the age of 14 became the youngest person to be convicted of terrorism offenses in the UK, was also granted anonymity for the rest of his life. Shortly before his 18th birthday, his attorneys asked the Supreme Court for lifelong anonymity to protect his rehabilitation.

In a July 2019 ruling, Dame Victoria Sharp granted RXG anonymity for life and said that “if he were named he will never escape connection with his previous offence”.

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Jon Venables and Robert Thomson

In February 1993, at the age of 10, they kidnapped, tortured and murdered two-year-old James Bulger in Liverpool.

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After they were convicted of murder, a judge allowed the boys’ names to be released.

However, in 2001, shortly after they turned 18, the Supreme Court issued an injunction preventing the media from publishing their new identities and granting them virtually lifelong anonymity.

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Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss said the pair were “uniquely notorious” and that there was a “real possibility of serious physical harm and possible death” if the new identities were released.

Jon Venables and Robert Thompson led James away from a mall before killing him (Getty Images)

They were convicted of aggravated assault in 2010 for torturing and humiliating two boys.

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The then 10 and 11-year-old couple strangled their victims, beat them with bricks, forced them to eat nettles and forced them to sexually abuse each other.

In 2016, two days before the younger brother’s 18th birthday – when his anonymity would have expired automatically – the Supreme Court granted the couple anonymity for life, with Sir Geoffrey Vos saying “they would face an extremely serious risk of physical harm”. if their identities were revealed.

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Bell was 10 and 11 when she strangled two young children in Newcastle in 1968 and was later convicted of reduced responsibility for manslaughter.

In 2003, she requested anonymity for life to prevent the press from publishing her new identity.

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Dame Elizabeth, the same judge who granted Venables and Thompson lifetime anonymity, said Bell’s “fragile mental health” would be “seriously aggravated if she were identified and followed by the press or the public.”

Mary bell.

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