29/09/2005

Huntley to serve 40 years

Double child murderer Ian Huntley is set to serve at least 40 years in jail.

Sentencing Huntley today at the High Court, Mr Justice Moses said that Huntley's offences did not meet the criteria for a "whole-life" tariff, but he said that the 40-year tariff offered little or no hope of release.

Former school caretaker Huntley, 31, was convicted of the murders of Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells in 2003 and received two life sentences.

The two girls, both aged 10, disappeared from their homes in August 2002. Huntley and his then girlfriend Maxine Carr were arrested following the discovery of the girls' bodies.

Carr, convicted in December 2003 for perverting the course of justice, was given a three-and-a-half year custodial sentence, and has since been released.

Mr Justice Moses said that under the 2003 Criminal Justice Act a "whole-life" tariff could only be set in sadistic or sexual cases, involving abduction or a high degree of premeditation.

While he said it was "likely" that Huntley had enticed the girls into his house, this was not proven and while there was the "likelihood" of a sexual motive, there was no evidence to support this view.

Mr Justice Moses said: "In those circumstances the starting point should not be a whole-life order."

However, he said that Huntley must have killed one of the girls to avoid that girl disclosing the murder of the first and had concealed and attempted to destroy the bodies. This, said Mr Justice Moses, showed Huntley's "lack of remorse".

Huntley, who it emerged had previously been accused of rape and having sex with underage girls, will be eligible for parole in 2042.

The announcement of the minimum prison sentence for Huntley was deferred due to procedural changes in the setting of tariffs under the Criminal Justice Act 2003.

Previously the Home Secretary set the minimum tariff in such cases, but under the 2003 Act, a High Court judge sets the term to be served.

(SP)

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