Parents: 'Our life sentence'

The father of murdered schoolgirl Jessica Chapman has said the next time he sees killer Ian Huntley he hopes it will "be in a coffin".

Leslie Chapman, 52, told a press conference that Huntley was "a time-bomb just ready to go off and unfortunately our girls were at the wrong place at the wrong time".

"I hope that the next time I will have to see him will be like we saw our daughters, and it will be in a coffin," he said, making little attempt to conceal his hatred.

First time parents speak out

It was the first time the parents of the two best friends had spoken out since Huntley and his then girlfriend Maxine Carr were arrested in August last year, 13 days after the girls vanished on Sunday August 4.

The parents, who carried out several public pleas for information before the arrests, had stayed silent during the 30-day trial of Huntley and Carr.

Mr Chapman was speaking on behalf of his wife Sharon and Holly Wells' parents Kevin and Nicola Wells, just hours after the former college caretaker was found guilty.

Huntley, 29, was given two life sentences for the murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman on August 4, last year.

Maxine Carr, 26, was given three-and-a-half years after being found guilty of one count of conspiring to pervert the course of justice.

The families of the murdered schoolgirls took the opportunity to publicly thank all those who helped bring their killer Ian Huntley to justice today.

Leslie Chapman and his wife Sharon, 44, and Kevin Wells, 40, and his wife Nicola, 36, sat side by side at the central London press conference.

Mr Chapman said: "We would just like to say a few thank yous."

He thanked the police, the people of Soham and family liaison officers.

Mr Chapman then went on to thank the jury members for bringing in the "right result".

Sense of relief

Kevin Wells, father of Holly, told reporters of a "great sense of relief."

He said: "There was no sense of euphoria, just a relief that we've got to the end of the process."

Mr Wells, 40, thanked the media, adding that the level of intrusion into their lives had been "minimal".

He said: "A big thank you to all of you.

Thanks to police

"Equally, we would also like to extend a thank you to Cambridgeshire Police.

"They have some amazing family police liaison officers who have made this particular journey a bit more bearable."

Mr Wells said he had reacted "very negatively" when he first discovered that Huntley was already known to the authorities, but that he hoped there would be legislative changes to come out of the parents' ordeal, so that "no-one else has to go through another 16 months like we have".

He said that the families would "take an interest" in the forthcoming inquiry into the police investigation. He said he hoped they would "have a positive impact to make".

Asked about how the parents felt still not knowing for sure how the girls died, Mr Chapman said: "There's only one man who can answer that question and whether he has the guts to answer the question publicly is down to him."

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