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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 December, 2003, 12:00 GMT
A 'charmer' drawn to schoolgirls

By Peter Gould
BBC News Online

Ian Huntley
Ian Huntley was described as moody and manipulative
Ian Huntley committed two murders that shocked Britain like few other crimes of modern times.

He cold-bloodedly killed Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, one after the other, and then went on television to feign concern for their safety.

He made a calculated attempt to cover his tracks, persuading his girlfriend, Maxine Carr, to take part in the cruel deception.

The case has stunned many of those who thought they knew Ian Huntley. Yet the words they use to describe him are strikingly similar.

They paint a picture of a moody, domineering young man with an unhealthy interest in schoolgirls.

It was at school in Immingham on the outskirts of Grimsby that his troubles began.

When Ian got angry, it was like he changed from one person to another... not a nice lad to know
Carl McLaughlin

He was good at football, but not popular with the other boys and was self-conscious about his appearance.

Fellow pupil Carl McLaughlin remembers him as a misfit, a quiet boy who had an alarming temper.

"Ian was a smallish lad, skinny and with a big forehead," he recalls.

"He never used to get on with the lads. He was picked on because he didn't fit in, and he took out his temper on smaller boys, chasing people around the playground.

"When Ian got angry, it was like he changed from one person to another. One minute he was human, the next he was a monster like the Incredible Hulk. Not a nice lad to know."

With few male friends, the teenage Ian Huntley sought out the company of girls.


He was described as "a charmer", but after he left school at 16, a more disturbing picture began to emerge.

He drifted around North East Lincolnshire, changing address every few months.

In December 1994, Huntley, then 20, met 18-year-old Claire Evans. They embarked on a whirlwind romance and he asked her to marry him.

She agreed but within weeks of the wedding, the marriage was over and she moved out. Relatives claim that Huntley had become violent and abusive towards her.

To Huntley's anger, she began a relationship with his brother, Wayne, whom she later married.

Huntley then had a succession of young girlfriends who described him as having violent tendencies.

'Punched in stomach'

One teenage girlfriend, Becky Bartlett, recalled how she lived with him briefly until a violent incident ended the relationship.

"I thought I was pregnant and I told him, and he just punched me in the stomach. I fell on the bed and I just said 'What did you do that for?'

"He just said 'I don't want no kids'. That's when I realised that I shouldn't really have been with him."

He was strange, I'd say manipulative, especially with the young girls
Louise de Gruchy
Others who came into contact with Huntley became uneasy about his behaviour. In Grimsby, he stayed for several weeks in the house of Louise de Gruchy.

"He was charming, well-mannered and polite, but strange," she recalls.

"There was just something about him that made you think he was not quite right," she recalls.

Louise says she told Huntley she did not approve of him seeing a 14-year-old schoolgirl. The relationship fizzled out, but then there was another incident.

"I had a friend sleeping over; she was 15. When I woke up in the morning I found them in bed together, so I had a few words to say to them both.

"It was either the next day, or a couple of days later, I came home and he'd moved out. He was strange, I'd say manipulative, especially with the young girls."


She was not the only woman disturbed by Ian Huntley. Sue Penney, his employer in Grimsby, says his fellow workers disliked him.

Women in particular felt really uncomfortable with him
Sue Penney
"He was very deep and moody," she says.

"The way he would look at you made you feel very uneasy. It was not a normal friendly face. Women in particular felt really uncomfortable with him.

"If you asked him questions about himself, he'd just change the subject and go very quiet and then talk about something completely different."

But there were other things that bothered her, like the way Huntley treated his girlfriend, who was about 16 or 17.

"It was about him controlling her. He would just sort of have to look at her and she would know he was mad with her, and just clam up."

And factory workers told stories about Huntley and even younger girls.

"We heard rumours of underage sex with 12 and 13-year-old girls," says Sue.

"That, and the way the girls felt around him, was enough for us to get rid of him."

It has now emerged that Huntley had faced four allegations of underage sexual relations and one of sexual assault when he lived in Grimsby in the late 1990s. These claims never led to a prosecution.

Rape allegation

In 1998, Ian Huntley found himself accused of rape. The case against him was eventually dropped, but he was concerned that detectives in Soham would find out.

In fact Humberside Police say they had ten contacts with Huntley over eight offences allegedly committed by him. This included the rape claim, and one arrest for failure to appear in court.

Huntley told Maxine Carr he feared police would "fit him up" for the murders of Holly and Jessica.

In Scunthorpe, the couple lived together at a flat in West Street, close to a hairdressing salon. Stylist Marie Wilson remembers him being "a bit weird", and says the other staff did not like him.

"It was his general mannerisms," she recalls.

"There was just something about him that made them feel uncomfortable. They said they would be passing him in the street, and he'd be leering at them."

Pattern of behaviour

After moving to Soham, Huntley and Carr used to visit a pub called the Black Horse at Littleport, a few miles outside the village.

On Sunday, one week after the two girls went missing, they came in as usual, telling the landlord they wanted to get away from the media.

"Ian was playing pool, talking to the lads about football," says Brian Kelly.

"I can't believe somebody could do that, walk into a pub, and be so cool. I just can't believe it."

Yet the Old Bailey heard this was part of a pattern of behaviour by a man who was able to kill two ten-year-old girls, and then get on with his life as if nothing had happened.

Ian Huntley felt no guilt and no remorse over the deaths of Holly and Jessica. His sole concern was to avoid suspicion and remain a free man.

It was the thought of being caught that terrified him.

The BBC's Gavin Hewitt
"Huntley had a string of young girlfriends"


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