Soham murders: why Maxine Carr was was given lifetime anonymity after prison, who else has it - who decides
Maxine Carr gave a false alibi for her then partner Ian Huntley - the murderer of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman
and live on Freeview channel 276
In August 200 Ian Huntley killed 10-year-old best friends Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman in Soham in a crime that shocked the country and launched a major police investigation. But when caretaker Huntley, who had lured the girls to his home, killed them, and discarded their bodies 10 miles away, was questioned by police, his partner Maxine Carr provided him with a false alibi.
Huntley then joined the search for the girls’ bodies, which were discovered 13 days after they had been killed. As the investigation developed, witnesses claimed that Carr had been 110 miles away in Grimsby when the killings took place, and the alibi she had provided for her boyfriend fell apart.
Huntley was eventually charged for the brutal crime and sentenced to a minimum of 40 years behind bars - Carr recieved 42 months for perverting the course of justice. Carr, then 22 years old, had worked at the girls school, and during the search for the pair she had even been interviewed by the media where she had held up a card Holly had made for her.
She had become notorious, but on her release from prison she was given a new identity. But why do some people get anonymity, who decides if they get it, and how common is it? Here’s all you need to know.
What is lifetime anonymity and why is it given?
The orders are rare and have only been granted in a small number of cases. The majority of the orders approved have been for those who were convicted of serious crimes as children. They are sometimes referred to as “Venables orders”, after one of the killers of James Bulger who was granted one.
Once the orders are in place the person’s identity will be secret for their lifetime. Whether or not an order is granted is decided by the High Court, and anyone who flouts the order could find themself in court. Those applying for such orders must prove that there would be a risk of serious harm to their lives if their identity was known to the public.
Why was Maxine Carr given anonymity?
Carr served half of her sentence for conspiring to pervert the course of justice and was released on probation. She had lied to police saying she had been with Huntley when the girls had gone missing. However, Carr was actually 100 miles away in Grimsby at a nightclub. When questioned by police after the girls bodies had been found Carr quickly confessed.
According to the Grimsby Telegraph she said: “I was pushed into a corner. Yes, I did lie but I was pushed into a corner to do it.”
During the trial reports stated she said of Huntley: “I’m not going to be blamed for what that thing in that box has done to me or those children.”
In 2005 Mr Justice Eady gave an indefinite extension to an existing order banning publication of her whereabouts or the nature of her work. The lifetime anonymity order was in place to protect her new identity. Her defence had argued during a hearing that there was an “overwhelming case” for making the injunction “against the world at large”. Carr’s QC had said there was a “real and significant risk of injury or of worse - killing” if an order was not made.
Mr Justice Eady said when the order was granted that it was “necessary to protect life and limb and psychological health”.
Who else has it?
Last year lifelong anonymity was granted to two women who murdered 39-year-old Angela Wrightson in Hartlepool when they were aged 13 and 14 in 2014.
While a man known only as RXG who was at the time the youngest person to be convicted of terrorism offences in the UK at the age of 14 was also granted anonymity for the rest of his life. Shortly before his 18th birthday his lawyers asked the High Court to grant him lifelong anonymity to protect his rehabilitation.
In a judgment in July 2019, Dame Victoria Sharp granted RXG lifelong anonymity, saying that “if he were named, he will never escape being associated with his past offending”.
Others who have it are:
Jon Venables and Robert Thompson
At the age of 10 years old they abducted, tortured and murdered two-year-old James Bulger in Liverpool in February 1993. After they were convicted of murder a judge allowed the boys to be named.
However, in 2001, shortly after they turned 18, the High Court made an injunction preventing the media from publishing their new identities, effectively granting them lifelong anonymity. Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss said the pair were “uniquely notorious” and there was a “real possibility of serious physical harm and possible death” if the new identities were published.
The Edlington brothers
They were convicted of grievous bodily harm for torturing and humiliating two young boys in 2010. The pair, who were 10 and 11 at the time, strangled their victims, hit them with bricks, made them 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 automatically expired – the High Court granted the pair lifelong anonymity, with Sir Geoffrey Vos saying “they would be at extremely serious risk of physical harm” if their identities were revealed.
Bell was aged 10 and 11 when she strangled two small children in Newcastle in 1968, and was later convicted of manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility. In 2003, she applied for lifelong anonymity to prevent the press publishing her new identity.
Dame Elizabeth, the same judge who granted Venables and Thompson lifelong anonymity, said Bell’s “fragile mental health” would be “seriously exacerbated if she were to be identified and pursued by the press or members of the public”.