Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Soham Murders Trial

A Call for Justice

On December 1, 2003 the defense team began arguing its case. The first witness they brought to the stand was Huntley who gave his latest version of what happened on the day he killed the girls. After describing how he "accidentally" killed them, he told of how he tried to conceal the truth from his family, Carr and the police because of his shame and fear of not being believed. Despite his purported fears and shame, he still had the audacity to seek out and console Holly's father shortly after the girls' disappearance and appear in countless television interviews. 

Jessica Chapman (left) & Holly Wells
Jessica Chapman (left) & Holly Wells

During Latham's cross-examination of the defendant, he accused Huntley of lying and changing his story to fit the facts, the BBC News reported in a December 2, 2003 article. According to the article, Latham "called the nosebleed story 'rubbish'" and said that he was tempted the moment the girls arrived at his doorstep. Latham further suggested that Huntley deliberately intended to murder the girls, which would account for why he made no attempt to resuscitate them after their deaths. Yet, according to a December 2, 2003 BBC News article, Huntley said that he failed to react because he was "frozen by panic" and was visibly angered by Latham's accusations that he deliberately drowned Holly and suffocated Jessica.

After three days on the stand, Huntley stepped down and Carr's testimony began. A December 3, 2003 BBC News article reported that Carr's lawyer, Michael Hubbard QC told the court that his client had "no control" over the events that unfolded on that fateful day. He further suggested that the only reason why Carr was facing charges was for lying to protect Huntley. Carr testified that she didn't think Huntley could ever commit murder and said that had she known at the time he was responsible for Holly and Jessica's deaths she would have "been out of that house like a shot straight to the police or straight to the nearest person I could talk to, to tell them," BBC News reported.

Following Carr's testimony, the defense and prosecution teams presented their closing statements. According to a December 10, 2003 BBC News article, Latham claimed that Huntley and Carr were "convincing liars" and that the girls "had to die" in order to satisfy Huntley's "own selfish self-interest." It was further suggested in the article that, "it was not possible for Holly to have drowned in six to eight inches of bath water with two other people (Jessica and Huntley) within arm's reach" or for Jessica to have died from his placing one had over her mouth to quiet her. Latham suggested that Huntley's motive for murdering the girls was sexual in nature, although there was no evidence of sexual assault due to the advanced state of decomposition of the girls' bodies.

While he was summing up his case, Coward asked the jury to "resist pressure" and outside influences when making their final decision about Huntley, BBC News reported on December 10, 2003. According to the article Coward said that the prosecution treated the deaths as "sinister from the start." Yet, he submitted that the only evidence available suggested that their deaths were "entirely innocent from the start," the article reported.

When Carr's lawyer, Hubbard, addressed the jury, he claimed that his client admitted to telling lies to protect Huntley but was in no way responsible for the murders. He further suggested that she initially did not believe that he committed the crimes but had she known she wouldn't have protected him. Moreover, he claimed that it was Huntley that devised the alibi, not his client but that she went along with it because she feared he would be implicated in the murders.

Following the closing arguments, the judge asked the jury to take care when considering a verdict and to judge the case on evidence alone, BBC News reported on December 11, 2003. On December 12th the jury retired to deliberate. It took them approximately five days to come to their conclusion.

On December 17th they returned their verdict. Carr was found guilty of conspiring to pervert the course of justice, yet she was cleared of two counts of assisting an offender. She received a three-and-a-half year prison sentence.

After rejecting Huntley's story, the jury found him guilty of the murder of Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells. He was sentenced to two life terms in prison. During sentencing the judge said, "you murdered them both. You are the one person who knows how you murdered them, you are the one person who knows why," the BBC News reported. It was hoped that he would one day reveal more about his motivation for committing the atrocious acts.

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