Page last updated at 15:20 GMT, Thursday, 29 September 2005 16:20 UK

Soham killer jailed for 40 years

Ian Huntley
Huntley was convicted of the schoolgirls' murders in 2003

Soham murderer Ian Huntley will spend at least 40 years in prison, a High Court judge has ruled.

Mr Justice Moses said the killings did not meet the criteria for a "whole-life tariff", but the 40-year term offered "little or no hope" of his release.

Former school caretaker Huntley, 31, received two life terms for the 2002 murders of Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells, both 10, in Soham, Cambs.

The victims' families said they wanted him jailed for the rest of his life.

Holly's parents Kevin and Nicola were in court with Jessica's parents Leslie and Sharon Chapman and her sisters Rebecca, 19, and Alison, 17.

He must have killed one of the girls to avoid that girl disclosing his murder of the first
Mr Justice Moses

They said in a statement: "We may not be around in 40 years time, but our children will. They, like us, continue to feel the pain of their sisters' murders each and every day."

The introduction of the 2003 Criminal Justice Act one day after Huntley's conviction led to a delay in the setting of his tariff.

Previously, the home secretary had the power to decide how long prisoners given life sentences would serve, but the power was handed to judges under the new laws.

'Lack of remorse'

Mr Justice Moses said a whole-life tariff under the 2003 Act could only be given in sadistic or sexual cases, those involving abduction or a high level of premeditation.

He said it was "likely" but not proved that Huntley had enticed the girls into his house and there was a "likelihood" of sexual motivation but no evidence.

Huntley sentenced one day before Criminal Justice Act came into force
Previously Home Secretary had power to set tariffs for prisoners given life sentences
Power transferred to judges in 2003
Judge can set 'whole life' but decided it was not appropriate in Huntley's case

"In those circumstances the starting point should not be a whole-life order," he said.

After considering personal statements from the victims' families and representations from Huntley's lawyers, Judge Moses highlighted what he regarded as aggravating factors.

He said: "In particular, he must have killed one of the girls to avoid that girl disclosing his murder of the first.

"He must have killed her when she knew what he had done to her friend. He concealed and attempted to destroy the bodies of both his victims."

The judge, who had also presided over Huntley's original trial in 2003, said these actions showed his "lack of remorse".

Huntley, who is currently being held at Wakefield Prison, in West Yorkshire, will not be eligible for parole until 2042.

It emerged during his trial that he had previously been accused of rape and of having sex with underage girls.

His former girlfriend Maxine Carr was jailed for three and a half years for conspiring to pervert the course of justice.

She was freed from jail and given a new identity in May 2004.

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How Holly and Jessica's parents reacted to the ruling

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