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CRY FOR HELP; EXCLUSIVE: 'Fragile' Maxine placed on fourth suicide watch after slashing wrist.

Byline: MATT ROPER

MAXINE Carr slashed her wrist in her cell days before ex-lover Ian Huntley tried to kill himself.

The suicide attempt was described as "self-harm, cutting" in an internal report at Holloway Prison seen by the Daily Mirror.

Sources inside the jail said it was "more of a cry for help".

Carr, 26, was found immediately and taken to Holloway's health centre. She had wounds to her left wrist treated, but did not need stitches.

The incident on Sunday, May 25, came two weeks before Soham murder suspect Huntley tried to kill himself with an overdose of anti-depressants.

That suicide bid caused outrage because of serious lapses in the guarding of Huntley, 29 - charged with murdering Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, both 10.

The source said: "Everyone at the prison knew Carr had been close to the edge. But she still managed to get her hands on an instrument to cut herself.

"She's supposed to be totally secure, but no matter how careful you are, there's always a chance a prisoner can do themselves harm if they are determined enough.

"Thankfully for her, it wasn't a full-blown suicide attempt, more of a cry for help." Former teaching assistant Carr, who denies perverting the course of justice, was put back on suicide watch - Status 2052 - because of concerns over her mental state.

She has been on the highest level of vigilance for the fourth time since Huntley's overdose a fortnight ago, which inmates at Holloway greeted by banging on cell doors.

The drama began at 6pm on May 25 when staff were called to Carr's cell in the C1 Block of the North London prison, a wing reserved for prisoners who require close monitoring.

It is believed Carr had grown more and more depressed after a female therapist, who had conducted several counselling sessions with her, left the prison and was not replaced.

The source said: "Since arriving at Holloway she's been in a fragile state but her condition deteriorated once this therapist left. She had been making good progress but it came as a real blow to her. That's what we think tipped her over this time."

Carr was first placed on the 2052 register on her arrival at Holloway in August. By January, she was considered less of a risk and taken off.

Staff put her back on suicide watch in April in the week running up to her court appearance at the Old Bailey.

It was the first time she had seen Huntley, who denied murder but admitted conspiring to pervert the course of justice, since August.

Carr was also placed on suicide watch, where prisoners are checked on around every 15 minutes, on June 9.

That was the morning she learned of Huntley's suicide bid at Woodhill Prison, Milton Keynes, Bucks.

She was said to be distraught when she was taken to a private room and informed by a prison chaplain. Staff feared the reaction of her fellow prisoners -- who banged on their cell doors when they heard the news later - would again tip Maxine into an incident of serious self-harm.

Holloway Prison is notorious for attempted suicides. Carr's incident was logged along with 16 others that week alone, including attempted hangings, suffocations and overdoses.

Carr's health has been subject of serious concern to prison staff throughout her stay in Holloway. In October last year, she was taken to hospital after collapsing through lack of food - a recurrence of the anorexia she has suffered since adolescence.

Her cell has cardboard furniture to try to stop her hurting herself. Two wardens escort her each time she leaves.

Last night a Prison Service spokeswoman said: "We never comment on individual prisoners' medical records."

Home Secretary David Blunkett demanded an urgent report after Huntley took 29 anti-depressant pills he had hidden in tea bags.

It said searches and supervision were deeply flawed, management and staff briefings were not "robust" enough and procedures for dispensing medicine failed to take into account the risk of self-harm.

In a separate memo to prison staff, Home Office minister Paul Goggins said Huntley's jailers were lax, complacent and overtired because they had too many other tasks.

CAPTION(S):

AT RISK: Carr inside Holloway. She is on the highest level of supervision because of concerns over her mental state Picture: PHILIP COBURN; ACCUSED: Huntley, left, and Holloway prison
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jun 26, 2003
Words:724
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