Ian Kevin Huntley was born into a working class home in Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire, on 31 January 1974, the first son of Kevin and Linda Huntley. An asthma sufferer, he had a turbulent time at school, often the target of school bullying, and this problem escalated until, aged 13, he was forced to change schools. He left school in 1990 and decided not to continue his studies to A-level, despite reasonable GCSE grades, choosing instead to go directly into employment.
In the years after he left school, Huntley already seemed to have developed an interest in young girls, and he was seen out with 13-year-old girls when he was eighteen. In December 1994, Huntley met 18-year-old Claire Evans, embarked on a whirlwind romance, and married her within weeks. The marriage was short-lived, however, and she left Huntley within days, moving in with Huntley’s younger brother Wayne. An enraged Huntley refused to grant his wife a divorce until 1999, preventing his brother’s marriage to Evans.
Following the collapse of his marriage, Huntley became more nomadic, moving from one rented flat to the next, frequently changing jobs. He had a succession of relationships, one of which was with a 15-year-old girl, with whom he fathered a daughter in 1998. A subsequent inquiry revealed that between 1995 and 2001, Huntley had sexual contacts with eleven underage girls, ranging between 11 and 17 years old.
On 7 January 1998, he appeared at Grimsby Crown Court charged with having burgled a neighbour's house, and in May 1998, he was charged with the rape of an 18-year-old girl in Grimsby. Neither case proceeded to court due to lack of evidence, but the rape allegation tainted him substantially.
In February 1999 he met 22-year-old Maxine Carr at a nightclub, and they moved in together after four weeks. The relationship endured despite some turbulent rows, and they moved to Littleport, near Soham, in 2001, where Huntley took a job at the Soham Village Centre as the manager of a team of caretakers.
In September 2001 he applied for the post of caretaker at Soham Village College, and in November 2001, despite his history of sexual contact with minors, he was awarded the position. Carr was employed as a teaching assistant at the local primary school.