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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 May, 2004, 10:45 GMT 11:45 UK
How Maxine Carr might start a new life
Maxine Carr, the ex-fiancée of Soham murderer Ian Huntley, is expected to be freed this week under a shroud of secrecy. How do those associated with notorious crimes start over with a new life?

Maxine Carr with a card from Holly Wells
Maxine taught Holly and Jessica
When Maxine Carr appeared in court on Monday to face deception charges - just days before her expected release - observers sought signs of a makeover.

For there has been speculation that she's been advised to change her appearance for life outside prison.

Her face and name are now well-known, and there are fears of vigilante attacks against the woman who gave a false alibi to Ian Huntley, who killed 10-year-old friends Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.

Smartly turned out with a slash of red lipstick, she looked small and pale and her hairstyle appeared unchanged from its familiar bob.

But her thin frame is not the result of a makeover; Carr has suffered eating disorders in the past, and her weight is said to have dropped to seven stone while behind bars.

New life, new name

On her release, Carr is expected to be taken to a safe house - or houses. As for her ultimate destination, she is said to be against a move abroad, and wants to live close to her family in Grimsby.

Maxine in a Daffy Duck sweatshirt for a court appearance in 2002
In December Carr was jailed for three-and-half years
Due to time served in custody, she's set for automatic release on licence on Sunday
Prison rules say those due to be freed on a weekend, who are serving less than four years, should be released the preceding Friday
Prison bosses have no authority to hold them until the Monday
But that would create a security headache; their addresses are too well-known. She would require a round-the-clock guard at a cost of up to £1m a year.

Resettling Carr is likely to be a difficult task, not least because of the high profile of the Soham case and the intense public emotions it still provokes. Police forces are even said to have prepared measures to protect those women who share her name.

It's not clear where she will live, nor if she will be given a new identity. The Home Office is overseeing her release plan - known to a handful of police, prison and probation officials - but will not comment on the details. The community rehabilitation order she received on Monday specified that she would live in Humberside, but it is thought likely she will be moved elsewhere.

Carr may strive for anonymity and time to re-adjust to life outside, but journalists are likely to seek her out. Her defence counsel, Michael Hubbard QC, told the court her one plea is to "be left in peace to recreate within herself a new heart".

If she's placed under the witness protection programme, options range from an alarm in her house to a new identity. Although she does not technically qualify for protection as she was not a witness in the Soham trial, it could still be offered to her for her own safety.

Unusual step

New identities are usually reserved for spies and gangland informers who have passed information to police or testified in a major trial, but there are exceptions.

To give someone a new identity requires a raft of paperwork - new medical and employment records, passports, National Insurance numbers and birth certificates. Bank accounts and credit cards will be under the new names. And it's been reported that Carr's dog Sadie has learned to answer to a new name.

Mary Bell
The public face of Mary Bell - taken when she herself was a child
Her lawyers could then apply for an injunction to keep her identity and whereabouts secret, similar to that obtained last year by Mary Bell, who was convicted of murdering two young boys in 1968 when she was 11.

Bell, who along with her teenage daughter was granted lifelong anonymity, has been given several assumed names since her release in 1980. And a life ban on publicity has been granted for Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, who as 10-year-olds killed toddler James Bulger.

But Bell, Thompson and Venables were children when they killed, and they no longer look as they did when they first gained notoriety.

Carr remains recognisable as the teaching assistant who spoke movingly of her young charges when the search for Holly and Jessica had not yet uncovered their bodies.

Nor is she a murderer. Her crime is to lie for the man she loved. If such an order is granted in her case, it will be the first for an adult who has not committed a serious offence, and as such will set a precedent.

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