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MAXINE MOVES TO A COUNTRY HOME; 'Soft' jail switch after court date.

Byline: AIDAN McGURRAN

MAXINE Carr was switched to a soft "country home" jail yesterday after leapfrogging 490 inmates.

Carr, 27, moved to Foston Hall, in Derbyshire, from London's grim Holloway prison after appearing in court accused of obtaining more than pounds 3,300 in bogus benefit claims and lying in job applications.

Despite applying for the switch only a fortnight ago she went to the head of a queue of women prisoners waiting for transfer to the jail.

Last night the ex-fiancee of Soham child killer Ian Huntley was segregated from other inmates amid fears the decision to fast-track her could lead to revenge attacks.

A Prison Service source told the Mirror: "This is a plum jail. Carr is very lucky to get a place here in front of several hundred others. The inmates know that - and they'll be furious.

"She's a hate figure and the jail will have to be very careful she's not attacked as she was in Holloway. Wherever she goes she's a target and a headache for officers."

Mark Leech, editor of the Prisons Handbook, added: "It's a very relaxed prison. But Carr will find it just as dangerous to survive among the population here as at Holloway.

"She'll always be notorious and would be foolish to lower her guard. For people like her, death and disfigurement lurk around every prison corner."

Carr, who appeared in court in Peterborough, is due to be freed in May from a three-and-a-half year jail term for plotting with Huntley to pervert justice. Huntley, 29, is serving life for murdering 10-year-old Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.

A prison insider said: "It's normal practice to move prisoners to a lower category prison towards the end of their sentence. It's all part of the process of preparing them for release.

"In this case, it made sense to make the jail transfer on the same day as Carr's court appearance rather than taking her back to London then, days later, to Derbyshire."

Foston Hall stands on an estate which dates back to the 14th century when it was owned by the Agard family. The present hall was built in 1863 and bought by the Prison Service 50 years ago.

Although it is not an open prison, its 235 inmates enjoy greater freedom than those at higher security jails. Many of the rooms have their own showers. There are fitness, art and computer centres, a hair salon and three classrooms.

Courses for prisoners include textiles, social skills, current affairs, cake decoration, computing, literacy and music.

Hours before moving in, Carr appeared in court amid tight security facing 20 charges of fraud and deception.

She arrived in a white Securicor van with a police outrider at 9am, an hour before the hearing. Roads surrounding the court were closed and about 50 officers were on duty. Unlike her previous appearances at the court there was no mob waiting outside.

Carr was accused of five counts of lying in job applications by claiming she had 10 GCSEs. It is alleged she left school without taking any exams.

The jobs included the post of a general assistant at St Andrew's School, in Soham, where she befriended Holly and Jessica.

Carr was additionally charged with 12 counts of lying to obtain housing benefit while living with Huntley, the Soham caretaker. It is also alleged she lied to claim jobseekers' allowance and income support. If convicted, she could face up to 10 years' jail.

Wearing a grey trouser suit with a blue V-necked top and gold pendant, Carr spoke to confirm her name and date of birth. She gave her address as "HM Prison Holloway".

Showing no emotion and staring straight ahead, she sat alone in the dock behind a glass partition, flanked by a female guard.

She did not enter any plea. The case was adjourned to April 23.

After a 34-minute hearing Carr left the building at 11.18 and was driven to Foston Hall. During her time in court about 50 people had gathered outside. But there were no outbursts. Bystander David Evans, 62, from Peterborough, said: "I'm not out for a mobbing. I'm just curious."

Carr worked at St Andrew's during the summer in 2002. She was told at the end of term she had not been successful in her attempt to land a permanent job.

Holly presented her with a card on the last day of term. A week later, she and Jessica were murdered by Huntley in the caretaker's cottage he shared with Carr.

At the time, Carr was visiting her mother Shirley Capp 100 miles away in Grimsby.

Capp, 60, will go on trial on June 9 accused of intimidating Marian Westerman before she gave evidence for the prosecution at Huntley's trial at the Old Bailey last year. She denies the charge.

CAPTION(S):

CARR: Court guard yesterday; NEW: Foston Hall jail and Agard crest; OLD: London's notorious Holloway jail
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 27, 2004
Words:817
Previous Article:GADD'S SHOE INSULT.
Next Article:MAXINE MOVES TO A COUNTRY HOME; Carr jumps queue to 'soft' jail after court date.


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