Soham: judge to take majority

The judge in the Soham murder trial has told the jury that he will accept a majority verdict over the deaths of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.

The jury were called back into court number one at the Old Bailey today as they continue to consider the verdicts for a fourth day.

Trial judge Mr Justice Moses said he would accept a majority of 10-2 or 11-1 on all verdicts.

The seven women and five men have deliberated for about 16 hours in total since they were sent out on Friday, but have failed to reach verdicts.

Mr Justice Moses told the jury: "The time has now come when I can give you further directions. They are these.

"In relation to any of the counts, I will accept a verdict, one way or the other, upon which at least 10 of you are agreed - in other words, 10 to two, 11 to one, or unaminous.

"You will be the best judge of this, Mr Foreman, and I don't want to know anything, but obviously do not take up time if it is pointless, but you should strive, if there is any point, in trying to reach unanimous verdicts, it is obviously preferable.

"If you cannot, I will accept verdicts upon which at least 10 of you are agreed."

Ian Huntley, 29, a former caretaker at Soham Village College, denies murdering Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman on Sunday August 4 last year but has admitted a single charge of conspiring to pervert the course of justice.

The jury has heard he admits Holly died accidentally in his bath and that he killed Jessica as he tried to silence her screams, although he insists he did not mean to kill her.

He bundled their bodies into his car, dumped them in the remote ditch where they were found 13 days later, cut off their clothes and torched their corpses.

His ex-girlfriend Carr, 26, a former classroom assistant in the 10-year-olds' class, denies conspiring to pervert the course of justice and two counts of assisting an offender.

She has told the jury that she lied to protect her then fiance, giving him a false alibi, but insisted she never suspected he could be involved in the girls' disappearance.

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