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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 December, 2003, 15:10 GMT
Verdict brings 'relief' to Soham
The Reverend Tim Alban Jones
Soham will never forget Holly and Jessica, Alban Jones said
There is "relief" in Soham following the convictions of Ian Huntley and Maxine Carr, according to its vicar.

But the Reverend Tim Alban Jones also said it would take time for "normality" to return and that Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman would not be forgotten.

Other community leaders raised concerns that Huntley found school work, despite being investigated for underage sex.

Huntley was convicted of murdering the 10-year-olds and Carr of conspiring to pervert the course of justice.

'Move forward'

Mr Alban Jones, who led Holly and Jessica's memorial service and was awarded an MBE for his work following their deaths, said their names "will long be remembered in our town".

But the vicar continued: "We have no wish to remember those connected with their brutal murders."

He said Soham would have to come to terms with the "shocking detail" of the best friends' murders, which came to light as residents followed "every twist and turn" of the trial.

Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman
Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman died in August 2002

Calling for the media to give locals space, he added: "It is our hope that the town will now be left alone and allowed to move forward."

The sentiments were echoed by the Cambridgeshire town's Methodist minister, Alan Ashton, who said there were still "so many empty spaces in the story" of what had happened to Holly and Jessica.

Mr Ashton said: "You don't have to scratch too deeply on the outer skin of Soham without coming face to face with the rawness of emotion that lies under the surface."

Complete overhaul

Concerns about Huntley's ability to get a job as caretaker at Soham Village College were raised by many people in Soham, as Home Secretary David Blunkett announced an inquiry into his appointment.

Keith Walters, leader of Cambridgeshire County Council, said Soham Village College had been let down by the system of checks for potential employees and called for a complete overhaul of the system.

There were people who during the summer said that it was a pity that Huntley was not successful in his attempted suicide
Jim Paice MP

He said: "No family must endure what Holly and Jessica's families have had to endure.

"If the college had been provided with the correct information, Huntley would never have been appointed."

And Mr Alban Jones had described revelations of Huntley's past as "deeply distressing".

"There obviously has to be some very very difficult questions to be answered," he said.

Rod Fox, chairman of governors at St Andrew's School, said: "This is a sad day and a time for reflection.

"Obviously questions will now be asked about why Huntley was working here and hopefully answers will be given."

Attempted suicide

Despite the many unanswered questions, Soham MP Jim Paice said he hoped the Old Bailey verdicts would help people move forward.

"There were people who during the summer said that it was a pity that Huntley was not successful in his attempted suicide," he said.

"I understand that feeling but I took the view that without a trial there would be no 'closure' and continued speculation."

BBC One's Real Story Soham special will be broadcast on Wednesday at 2100 GMT

The BBC's Richard Bilton
"The people of Soham carry an enormous burden"

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