IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

U.K. school caretaker guilty of girls' murder

A former school caretaker was given two life sentences on Wednesday after being found guilty of murdering two 10-year-old girls, a case that attracted huge media attention in Britain.
FILE PHOTO OF CONVICTED SOHAM MURDERER IAN HUNTLEY AND FORMER GIRLFRIEND CARR
Ian Huntley, 29, seen in this photo taken in Soham, Cambridgeshire, in August 2002, was found guilty Wednesday of murdering 10-year-old schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman. Pool via Reuters file
/ Source: msnbc.com news services

A former school caretaker was given two life sentences on Wednesday after being found guilty of murdering two 10-year-old girls, a case that attracted huge media attention in Britain.

Ian Huntley, 29, had denied murdering the girls, claiming Holly Wells accidentally drowned in his bathtub when he was helping her stop a nosebleed, and that he apparently smothered Jessica Chapman while trying to stop her screams. He acknowledged bundling the bodies into his car, dumping them in a remote ditch, cutting off their clothes and burning the bodies.

Huntley had admitted a single charge of conspiring to obstruct justice.

FILE PHOTO OF MURDER VICTIMS HOLLY WELLS AND JESSICA CHAPMAN
A police handout photograph shows murdered Cambridgeshire schoolgirls Holly Wells (L) and Jessica Chapman in the Manchester United football club shirts they were wearing on August 4, 2002, when they were last seen near Holly's home in Soham. School caretaker Ian Huntley was found guilty December 17, 2003 of murdering the 10-year-olds.X80001

His former girlfriend, Maxine Carr, 26, who also worked at the girls' school, was acquitted of aiding in the killings but found guilty of conspiring with Huntley to obstruct justice. She was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in jail.

The jury reached the guilty verdicts by votes of 11 to 1, shortly after the judge told them he would accept majority, rather than unanimous, decisions, as long as 10 jurors agreed.

The jurors had deliberated for more than three days in the case, which transfixed Britain when the two friends vanished in August 2002 as they walked through their hometown of Soham in eastern England.

Prosecutors said Carr had helped her boyfriend cover up the murders. She acknowledged lying to protect him, but denied aiding him and conspiring to obstruct justice.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.