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Huntley 'targeted young girls'

Ian Huntley
Huntley: Accused of having sex with a string of schoolgirls

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LONDON, England (CNN) -- Ian Huntley was a sexual predator obsessed with young girls, it was revealed after the Soham trial at London's Old Bailey closed.

Questions were being asked as to why the 29-year-old was able to outwit vetting procedures and get a job as a school caretaker at Soham, in the eastern English county of Cambridgeshire.

Huntley was found guilty of murdering 10-year-olds from that town, Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, at Britain's top criminal court Wednesday. (Full story)

The Old Bailey jury knew he had been charged with raping a teenager -- a charge that was later dropped. What they did not know is that he was also accused of indecently assaulting an 11-year-old and having sex with a string of other schoolgirls, the UK's Press Association reported.

In total, he came to the attention of Humberside Police on 10 occasions, PA said.

These comprised the rape allegation, an arrest for not appearing at court and eight other offences allegedly committed by Huntley.

In addition, between August 1995 and July 1998 he was reported to North East Lincolnshire Social Services on five separate occasions -- once for the alleged indecent assault and four times for underage sex with girls.

Three of the girls involved were aged 15 and one was 13.

No link was made between the cases because each was dealt with by different social workers and they kept no record of alleged offenders.

Three of the underage sex allegations cases were passed on, independently of each other, to Humberside Police.

The first allegation of sex with a schoolgirl was made by her family in August 1995 when Huntley was 21.

In April 1996 social services became aware of another girl involved with Huntley whose family reported their concerns to her school.

The girl refused to speak to social workers and avoided them, PA said.

Holly and Jessica
The murdered girls pictured shortly before their disappearance.

She was eventually seen by her family doctor who decided there was no further need for social workers to be involved.

There were two further allegations to social services from the families of other girls, both in May 1996, before the indecent assault was reported in July 1998.

The alleged indecent assault victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was 12 at the time the allegation was made but 11 when the assault was alleged to have happened in 1997.

Humberside Police investigated the allegation but, according to PA, never sent a file to the Crown Prosecution Service for lawyers to consider criminal action against Huntley.

The allegation came a month after Huntley had appeared in court in Grimsby charged with raping another girl, a petite 18-year-old.

That case was dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service.

Huntley, who was by then 24, was accused of pouncing on the girl in a back alley, dragging her to the ground and launching a vicious sex attack.

He stood in the dock at Grimsby magistrates court at two hearings before prosecutors decided they did not have enough evidence to continue.

Jim Leivers, the chief executive of North East Lincolnshire Council, defended social workers' handling of Huntley.

Leivers told PA: "The five cases were from different areas, involved different circumstances and were handled by different people, who had no reason to cross-refer with one another."

He said none of the girls would make a complaint about Huntley, to whom they referred to as their "boyfriend".

"We are not here to arrest offenders, we are interested in protecting youngsters," he said.

Huntley also appeared in court once charged with burglary.

On January 7 1998 he stood in the dock at Grimsby Crown Court charged with burgling a neighbour's house in Florence Street, Grimsby, eastern England.

Huntley and Dean were alleged to have stolen perfume, jewellery, a Black and Decker heat gun and 20 cash after breaking into the neighbor's house through a shared roof space.

The case came to court more than two years after the burglary and the prosecution and judge decided to allow the matter to lie on file.

That decision meant that when police checks were made on Huntley after he applied for the caretaker's job at Soham Village College, he was found to have no criminal convictions.

Allowing it to lie on file was described by a senior officer in the Soham case as "bizarre."

After sentencing of Huntley, an independent inquiry into how he got a job as a school caretaker was announced by UK Home Secretary David Blunkett.

There were "real concerns" about the way police handled intelligence on Huntley's past, he said.


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