How long did Maxine Carr serve in prison and what was she charged with?

Her name will forever be tainted by her part in a double murder

Maxine Carr holding a card made for her by Holly Wells
(Image credit: Reuters/Alamy/Future)

What was Maxine Carr’s role and how long did she serve, for one of the most shocking crimes Britain has ever seen? 

She came to be known as the most hated woman in Britain, for the part she played in the double murder of school girls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman. The girls disappeared following a BBQ in Soham, Cambridgeshire on August 4, 2002. Maxine Carr and her boyfriend at the time, Ian Huntley, heavily involved themselves in the search for the girls. Although Huntley was eventually charged and found guilty with their murder, Maxine Carr played her own part in the crime. With Channel 5 dramatising Carr’s role in Holly and Jessica’s murders in 3-part series Maxine, interest in the case has been reignited. Exactly how long did Carr serve in prison and what was she charged with? Read on to find out.

To find out where Ian Huntley is now (opens in new tab), we have the answers. A recent Netflix dramatisation of the life and crimes of Jeffrey Dahmer also acted to increase intrigue in his life. With a murder spree going unchecked for many years, viewers asked how did Jeffrey Dahmer get caught (opens in new tab) - the answer is incredible. There is ongoing interest in how did Jeffrey Dahmer die (opens in new tab) and how old he was at the time - we have this covered for true-crime enthusiasts.

How long di Maxine Carr serve in prison?

Maxine Carr served 21 months of a 42 month sentence. She was released from Foston Hall prison in Derbyshire in May 2004, after serving half her sentence.

Carr worked as a teaching assistant at the school Holly and Jessica attended. She was depicted in the press when the girls were missing, showing a card Holly had made for her on the last day of term, adorned with phrases including “I’ll miss you”, and “see you around school”. 

Two women shout abuse at a police van as Maxine Carr is transported from Peterborough Magistrates court August 21, 2002

(Image credit: Reuters/Alamy)

At the time, Carr told reporters “This is something that I will keep for the rest of my life. It's what Holly gave me on the last day of term and there's a poem written inside saying 'to a special teaching assistant' and that we will miss her and we will see her in the future. That was the kind of girl she was, she was just really lovely”.

What was Maxine Carr charged with?

Maxine Carr was charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice and was later charged with two counts of assisting an offender. 

According to Grimsby Live (opens in new tab), Carr had a troubled upbringing, and a difficult relationship with Huntley. It was reported that her father walked out on the family when she was just 2-years-old. When she was older, she wanted no association with him and changed her surname from Capp to Carr. She suffered from anorexia as a teenager, with her weight dropping below 6 stone.

She met Huntley at a Grimsby nightclub when she was 22, and he was 25. She moved into his flat one month later. Carr’s sister told the publication that Huntley was violent and controlling towards her, often hitting and punching her. Huntley was offered a job as a caretaker at a secondary school in Soham, Cambridgeshire, in 2001. Carr, harbouring dreams of becoming a teacher, went with him and secured a job as a teaching assistant at St Andrew's Primary School where Jessica and Holly were pupils. 

Maxine Carr

(Image credit: PA Images/Alamy)

What did Maxine Carr do?

Maxine Carr provided Ian Huntley with a false alibi for the night he murdered Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, deliberately lying to the police about her whereabouts

Huntley aroused suspicion following several unusual interactions with reporters. During one interview, Carr - as the girls’ teaching assistant - was asked how she thought the girls might react to a stranger. Huntley overrode her to answer, giving a very specific answer to the question. According to the BBC, he said that Holly would probably get in the car and go quietly, but Jessica would put up a fight and struggle. It is thought his answer depicted exactly how the girls did react when he attempted to lure them into his house, and how he answered so specifically. 

Carr originally told police she had been with Huntley at home in Soham on the night of the murder. However, it later transpired she had been to a pub and then back to her own home in North Lincolnshire during that time. It is thought that Carr initially genuinely believed in Huntley’s innocence. She put the fact that he’d been cleaning the house - something he never did - down to him having an affair and tidying up after another woman, not down to disposing of evidence. She loved him and championed his innocence, until it genuinely began to look like he’d committed the crime, and she backtracked on the alibi she’d provided. 

Protestors holding a picture of murdered schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman

(Image credit: Reuters/Alamy)

Maxine Carr: Her story

In an interview with The Guardian (opens in new tab) in 2004, Carr said of her actions “I was stupid and lied, but I never had any idea what he had done. All this stuff is being written about me. But what about him? He's being left alone”. 

A hearing found Carr was receiving real and immediate threats to her life, with strangers writing to her to warn she’d be shot on her release from prison. She also spoke of letters she’d received in prison from Huntley, continuing to profess his innocence in the case. She claims he pleaded with her not to believe that he had murdered Holly and Jessica - this, she believes, proved she was unaware of what had really happened.

She said “Why would he say that if I knew what he had done? It shows I didn't know. I am considering releasing this letter - it might make people believe that I didn't know what he had done”. She said however, that some people who recognised her following her release, told her they believed she had been treated badly. She also denied living a life of luxury - something else the press reported at the time of her release from prison

Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman

(Image credit: PA Images/Alamy)

Did Maxine Carr get a new identity?

Yes, Maxine Carr has been issued with a new identity. She is protected with a lifelong anonymity order - this makes her one of only four former UK prisoners protected by such an order. Other recipients include Mary Bell, Robert Thompson, and Jon Venables.

It has been reported Carr married in 2014, with her new husband knowing about her past. His family are said to be stunned by his decision to marry her, knowing what she has done. It was once widely reported that Carr had given birth, but this story has lately become discredited and it is thought she currently has no children. 

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