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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 November, 2003, 17:05 GMT
Soham trial: Inside the courtroom
By Jonathan Duffy
BBC News Online in the Old Bailey

At one end is the judge, Mr Justice Moses, opposite him at the far end of the historic Old Bailey's court number one sit the two accused: Ian Huntley and his former girlfriend Maxine Carr.

Between the two ends, along one side of the trial room, sit the jury of 12 men and women who will decide this case.

Over the coming three months - the estimated length of the trial - they will hear from an expected 170 witnesses.

It was to the jury that Richard Latham QC, counsel for the prosecution, directed his opening address on Wednesday.

Intense interest

From left, Leslie and Sharon Chapman, Kevin and Nicola Wells
The families of Holly and Jessica arrived at Old Bailey together
Speaking in calm, measured tones that betrayed not a hint of the strong emotions that surround this case, Mr Latham stood side on to the judge to present an overview of the facts of the case, as the prosecution sees them.

Mr Huntley, 29, denies murdering Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, both aged 10 when they went missing in the early evening of Sunday 4 August 2002.

Ms Carr, 26, denies one charge of seeking to pervert the course of justice and two charges of assisting an offender.

It is the obligation to report accurately and without passion what happened in the court
Mr Justice Moses
It is an indication of the intense interest in the case that the court authorities have opened an annex to accommodate the overspill of journalists.

The court itself has some 60 places in its press gallery, while the annex on the floor below has space for a further 70 reporters via video link.

Earlier, Mr Justice Moses took the unusual step of speaking to the assembled media in the presence of the jury, to remind them of the gravity of the case and impressed on them the responsibility for "reporting this as a fair trial".

"It is the obligation to report accurately and without passion what happened in the court."

And that obligation was to the court, the community and "those most acutely" involved: the families of the two girls.

Richard Latham QC
Richard Latham QC maintained a calm demeanour throughout
Outside, in the fresh late Autumn morning, a queue of about 50 members of the public snaked back from the entrance to the public gallery.

As they waited, just a few yards away parents of Holly and Jessica arrived at the court entrance and paused briefly for photographers before taking their seats in court.

After two days of procedural matters, focusing mainly on jury selection, the trial started in earnest.

'Large jigsaw puzzle'

Stepping up to the court at 11.15 to begin his opening address, Mr Latham fixed instantly on the events of the last day the girls were seen alive.

Above him, to his right, sat the judge surrounded by documents of evidence and a flat screen monitor - a visual aid to illustrate some of the more technical elements of the case.

Similar monitors, also available for the jury, were used to display a series of maps, which established the location of Soham and, in particular, key sites in the town such as Holly and Jessica's family homes and where the defendants lived.

Acknowledging to the jury the complex nature of the case, Mr Latham drew on the metaphor of a rather large jigsaw puzzle.

The jury was told that the case would demand a great deal of commitment from themselves, which would include a visit to Soham next week and an overnight stay nearby.

Mr Latham maintained a composed demeanour throughout his opening address, using muted hand gestures to illustrate a point and periodically leaning forward to rest his elbows on the notes from which he read.

Throughout the day television crews and newspaper photographers lined the pavement immediately outside the entrance to the court, yet another indication of the fascination that surrounds these initial stages of the trial.

The BBC's Sarah Campbell
"For almost three hours Richard Latham QC outlined the prosecution case"

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