[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 November, 2003, 16:52 GMT
Soham jury visits bodies site
The ditch where Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman were found
The jury was taken to the ditch where the girls were found
Jurors in the Soham murder trial have visited the site where the bodies of 10-year-olds Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman were found.

They spent over an hour at the remote woodland spot near Lakenheath, Suffolk.

On Monday the jury went to Soham to retrace the girls' last known steps and see key sites, including the former home of Ian Huntley.

Mr Huntley, 29, the former school caretaker, denies murdering the girls, in August 2002.

His ex-girlfriend Maxine Carr, 26, denies attempting to pervert the course of justice and helping an offender.

In the opening few days of the trial, the prosecution outlined its case against Mr Huntley, saying he had killed the girls in his home, probably by suffocation.

Found accidentally

It claimed he then drove their bodies to the remote spot in Lakenheath, about 40 minutes away, where he dumped them in a ditch.

Mr Huntley returned two days later and tried to set fire to their bodies, the prosecution said.

The bodies were found near Lakenheath
They were found by accident 13 days later by members of the public.

The jurors arrived at 1045 GMT at the start of the path - known as Common Drove - that led into the woods where the girls were dumped.

The prosecution showed them the spot where it said Mr Huntley had made two tracks walking through overgrown nettles, one to dump the bodies and one to return to burn them.

After being led along the rutted track leading from open fields, marked by a single bunch of flowers, they were shown the ditch, which was about six foot deep.

They peered down into it in silence or observed it while still standing on the path.

Before being shown the ditch, the jury was shown a branch where the prosecution said one of Jessica's hairs had been found.

Prosecution evidence: The girls' last movements

Richard Latham QC, prosecuting, had also pointed to a sluice gate which controlled levels of water in the ditch and to the distant spire of Wangford church.

The prosecution said Mr Huntley's father lived in a cottage near the church and as a result, the caretaker would have known the area well.

The jurors were told by the prosecution to follow carefully the route from Soham to Lakenheath.

The prosecution says Mr Huntley would have passed many locations on the way where he could have dumped the bodies if he was in a state of panic.

This is an indication he had calmly worked out the most inaccessible place to put the bodies so they would not be discovered, the prosecution added.

Jurors were allowed to walk around the site where the bodies were dumped, with the surrounding area cordoned off and effectively designated as part of the court.

Final hours

On Monday the jurors, judge and legal team from the Old Bailey spent a few hours in Soham.

They drove past the girls' homes and walked to the town's war memorial and its sports centre, which the girls passed in their final hours.

When they visited Mr Huntley's home of 5 College Close, the jurors were warned the appearance of the two-storey house had changed dramatically since the time of the girls' disappearance.

Mr Latham showed the jury photographs as the house would have appeared when police first searched it.

"You are reminded that during the police search the house has been stripped of all interior fittings."

Mr Latham also pointed out the removal of the original windows and window frames, and numerous changes inside.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Duncan Kennedy
"On Wednesday the jurors will retake their seats in court to hear the first witness in this trial"



RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific