The day of judgment
The trials of Huntley and Carr opened, to worldwide media interest, at the Old Bailey, on 5 November 2003. Huntley was faced with two murder charges, while Carr was charged with perverting the course of justice and assisting an offender. The prosecution entered exhaustive evidence linking Huntley to the girls and three weeks into the trial, despite previously having denied any knowledge of their murders, Huntley suddenly changed his story, admitting that the girls had died in his house, but he claimed that both deaths were accidental.
The defence called Huntley as their first witness, and he described how he had accidentally knocked Holly Wells into the bath, whilst helping her control a nosebleed, and had accidentally suffocated Chapman when she started to scream, and he had tried to silence her.
On cross-examination the prosecution described his latest version as “rubbish”. Carr's testimony began three days later, when it was claimed that she had no control over the events on the day of the murder, and that had she known of Huntley’s murderous intent, she would never have lied to protect him. Following her testimony, the prosecution presented their closing statements, claiming that both Carr and Huntley were convincing liars, and also that Huntley’s motive for murdering the girls was sexual, although physical evidence of assault was impossible to prove.
After five days of deliberation, the jury rejected Huntley’s claims that the girls had died accidentally and on 17 December 2003, returned a majority verdict of guilty on both charges. Huntley was sentenced to life imprisonment, but there was a delay on the setting of his tariff, as the 2003 Criminal Justice Act came into force one day after his conviction.
This new act passed the decision on how long a prisoner given a life sentence would serve from the Home Secretary to judges. At a hearing on 29 September 2005, a judge ruled that the Soham killings did not meet the criteria for a “whole-life” tariff, which was now reserved for sexual, sadistic or abduction cases only under the new act, and imposed a 40 year prison sentence, which offers Huntley very little hope for release.
On 14 September 2005, Huntley had been attacked by another inmate at Belmarsh Prison, and scalded with boiling water, which prevented him from attending this sentencing hearing. Carr was cleared of assisting an offender, but found guilty of perverting the course of justice, and jailed for three-and-a-half years, but she was freed under police protection in May 2004, as she had already spent 16 months on remand, pending the trial.
Carr was given a new identity upon her release and on 24 February 2005, was granted an indefinite order protecting her new identity by the High Court, on the basis that her life would be in danger were her new identity to be revealed.