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Last Updated: Monday, 10 November, 2003, 16:22 GMT
Soham becomes an Old Bailey court
Police cars enter Soham
Police turned Soham into a court for the jury's visit
The small market town of Soham became an Old Bailey court on Monday, as jurors retraced the final steps of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman. The legal restrictions surrounded jury visits are wide-ranging.

Police stopped traffic and enforced a cordon as the seven women and five men saw key sites - including the home of Ian Huntley, who denies murder.

Residents were encouraged to keep a low profile for the visit and several schools and council offices closed.

Trial judge Mr Justice Moses ordered the media to follow strict guidelines.

'Not unprecedented'

Following the jury's arrival, long lines of traffic built up at police roadblocks, while TV crews were ordered to point their cameras away from Soham.

All the normal restrictions and rules governing how journalists can cover a trial apply just as much to what is going on inside Soham today
Andy Tighe

BBC correspondent Andy Tighe said parts of the town were made inaccessible as the jury moved around.

He said: "It's not unprecedented for these site visits to take place, but it doesn't happen all that often.

Similar restrictions were used during jury visits in previous high profile cases, such as the 1995 trial of Rosemary West, accused of killing 10 girls and young women at her home in Gloucester.

Our correspondent said: "What it effectively means is that beyond (the) cordon, the area of Soham where the jury are walking about, becomes effectively part of court number one of the Old Bailey.

"In other words, all the normal restrictions and rules governing how journalists can cover a trial apply just as much to what is going on inside Soham today."

As a result, footage of the jury in Soham was banned, just as the proceedings in an ordinary courtroom cannot be filmed.

A small number of journalists were allowed to accompany the jury.

But they had to wait until the visit was over before filing reports on what happened, and these had to be written according to strict rules designed to ensure a fair trial.

Free tickets

Ahead of the jury's visit, many Soham residents decided to leave town for the day.

Nearby attractions offered free tickets to those who wanted to keep out of the way.

Police officers
Officers ensured the public and media were kept at a distance

The Civil Aviation Authority even imposed a ban on flights over the town and Lakenheath, the area where the girls' bodies were left.

Turning Soham into a giant courtroom was considered necessary to give the jurors a chance to see with their own eyes the area and buildings at the heart of the case.

Among the many things they were shown were Holly and Jessica's homes , the route the girls were thought to have taken after they went missing and Soham Village College.

They were also given a tour of the home Mr Huntley shared with Maxine Carr, who denies attempting to pervert the course of justice and helping an offender.

The jurors were asked to bear in mind what they were being shown, as it may be referred to again later in the trial.

The BBC's Philippa Thomas
"Schools and play groups have been closed for the day and many residents have decided to leave"

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