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Wednesday, 21 August, 2002, 12:50 GMT 13:50 UK
Day in court sparks angry scenes
Maxine Carr arrives in court inside a police van
An elaborate security operation was in place

Young children burst into tears when their mothers bawled and howled abuse at a police van containing Maxine Carr, as the anger at the murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman found a release outside Peterborough magistrates court.

Hundreds of people - passers-by and many who had made a special journey - transformed a quiet shopping street into the scene of a theatrical and troubling expression of pent-up emotion.

As the crowd waited restlessly for the classroom assistant to arrive from the nearby police station one woman received a call on her mobile phone: "Yeah, we're at the court. We're going to shout 'kill her, kill her' when she arrives."

And they did.

DCI Hebb arrives at court
DCI Hebb arrives at court

On the court steps a group of Peterborough's usual suspects with appointments inside the court - teenagers in tracksuits and football tops - sniggered among themselves as they dragged on cigarettes.

The circus around the court made an interesting change from the local reporters and today somebody else was the centre of attention.

The detective leading the murder inquiry, DCI Andy Hebb, breezed through the crowd on his way inside.

Three days ago he looked deeply saddened as he faced the world's media outside St Andrew's Church in Soham, while a senior officer confirmed Holly and Jessica's bodies had been all but identified.


We're going to shout 'kill her, kill her' when she arrives

Woman in crowd
Suddenly the police turned to face the crowd as a convoy of three vehicles swept towards the court building.

There was a surge of around 70 people. A mother was restrained as she stepped forward.

Angry shouting was heard as the steel gates of the garage were pulled shut.

Inside the courthouse journalists had queued to get a seat. Only about 20 could fit in and dozens from all over the world were disappointed.

Ripple of excitement

There was a ripple of excitement as Miss Carr's name was called.

Wearing a black t-shirt and jeans, she hung her head as details of the case were read out.

Looking pale and drawn following the harrowing entrance and the days of police questioning she remained impassive in the dock.

But at one point she clasped her hands behind her head and bowed towards her knees.

In the brief hearing, lasting just minutes, she spoke only once to confirm her name.

A woman screams abuse as a child looks on
A woman screams abuse as Maxine Carr arrives
By the time it came for her to leave the crowd outside had swelled tenfold. The spectacle had created its own momentum and was drawing in passers-by.

One young boy sat cross-legged at the front of the crowd like he was waiting for a show.

At the last minute another dozen officers in fluorescent jackets came out from the courthouse to swell the cordon protecting the convoy's exit.

Shouting and crying

A siren was heard from inside the building and once again Maxine Carr was whisked away to the sound of more angry shouting, camera clicks and crying children.

An elaborate security operation had been put in place in preparation for her court appearance.

Police wanted to avoid the sort of harrowing scenes that occurred when the killers of toddler James Bulger first appeared before magistrates in Merseyside when hundreds of people turned up to hurl abuse and missiles, beating on the police van as it left the court.

A question on many people's lips concerned Ian Huntley, the man accused of murdering the two schoolgirls, who is currently undergoing psychiatric assessment at Rampton secure hospital in Nottinghamshire.

"Why wasn't he here to face the charges?" they wanted to know.


I hate to think what will happen if they find someone guilty

Elderly onlooker
Whether Mr Huntley will ever face a court will be up to doctors and a jury to decide.

Some struggled to answer why they had come.

Mother-of-six Dawn Collins, from Peterborough, said she had turned up "to help them girls".

Nicola Jeffries said she was there because she was a mother and mothers "needed to have their say".

But compared to the outpouring of grief in Soham, there was a sense that here was an altogether different part of the spectrum of emotions that the girls' deaths had drawn out.

An elderly onlooker turned to her husband and said: "I hate to think what will happen if they find someone guilty."

See also:

21 Aug 02 | England
Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.


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