Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Dream 267

'The Soham Murders'
This was a terrifying a disturbing dream, although very brief. It warrants some background information to explain the context and why I experienced this dream as a nightmare which left me feeling uneasy and troubled when I awoke. I apologise in advance for the gruesome and tragic content of this particular dream report.

I am not comfortable recording this dream because of the sensitive nature of the content (i.e. the murder of innocent children by a sex offender), but I undertake to record all my dreams regardless of whether I want to or not so I have made this decision, albeit with significant reservations.

The Soham Murders
The Soham Murders took place in the small Cambridgeshire village, Soham, on 4 August 2002, and have been described as one of the most shocking crimes of early twenty-first century Britain. The victims were Holly Marie Wells and Jessica Aimee Chapman, both aged 10 years. Ian Huntley, caretaker at the local secondary school was convicted of the murders and sentenced to two terms of life imprisonment (with a 40 year tariff) in December 2003. Huntley's girlfriend, Maxine Carr, a teaching assistant at the girls' primary school was convicted of perverting the course of justice (for providing Huntley with a false alibi) and sentenced to 42 months imprisonment. Huntey remains in prison, while Carr has been released and granted anonymity (and a new identity) for her protection. 

Huntley was known to the police and authorities as a sex offender, targeting children and young female adults. He had been dismissed from an earlier school caretaker job for having an inappropriate relationship with a female pupil. Subsequent investigation has revealed that Huntley had been suspected of committing a number offences, including burglary, several indecent (sexual) assaults and rapes, none of which had resulted in convictions. The Soham school where he had been working as a caretaker had not checked his references, relying on Carr's recommendation of him for the position. Carr had suffered various incidents of domestic violence at the hands of Huntley.

The girls had been at a family BBQ, which they left in the evening, to go and buy sweets. On the way, they saw Huntley outside his home and they spoke to him. Huntley invited them into the house, telling them (falsely) that Carr, whom the girls were fond of, was inside. Carr was in fact visiting family in Grimsby. Shortly after the girls entered Huntley's home he murdered them. Huntley's motive for killing the girls - and also the method of murder - is unknown, but it is speculated that he killed them in a fit of jealous rage as he had just had an explosive argument with Carr on the telephone. There was no evidence of premeditation.

During the initial search for the girls, photographs were released to the media and  footballer David Beckham made an appeal for the girls to be returned home safely. Huntley conducted TV interviews, stating that he was the last person to have seen the girls before their disappearance. Carr was later interviewed by the police, speaking about her affection for the missing children and urging them to come home. Both Huntley and Carr made witness statements to the police on 16 August 2002. During a search of Huntley's lock-up, items of clothing belonging to the girls - Manchester United football shirts - were found, burnt. Huntley and Carr were arrested on suspicion of murder the next day, when the bodies of Holly and Jessica were found in a ditch near RAF Lakenheath. The bodies were in a decomposed, partially-skeletonised state, making it difficult to ascertain the precise cause of death, and there was evidence of attempts made to burn evidence at the scene, to destroy forensics.

During his trial at the Old Bailey Huntley stated that the girls had gone to his bathroom because Holly had suffered a nosebleed. While attempting to stem the blood flow, Huntley had accidentally knocked Holly into a bath of water, causing her to accidentally drown. Jessica had suffocated when Huntley tried to stifle her screams and by the time he realised what was happening it was already too late and both girls were dead. This account was not accepted by the jury, who convicted him by a majority verdict. 

While on remand awaiting trial, Huntley attempted to commit suicide by overdose of antidepressant medication. He made similar attempts in 2006. Whilst serving his sentence at HMP Wakefield in 2005, Huntley was scalded with boiling water by another inmate. In 2010, while at HMP Frankland, Huntley had his throat slashed by another prisoner, who was subsequently convicted for this and a second attack on a sex offender prisoner.

There has been criticism of the way in which the initial police investigation of the girls' disappearance - because of a lack of local resources, vital clues had been missed in the early stages. Further, the murder lead to the Bichard Inquiry into child protection procedures and the vetting and intelligence-keeping of information relating to child sex offenders. Findings of the Inquiry led to the enactment of the Police Act 2002. Additional complications of this case emerged when Operation Ore uncovered evidence that a police officer involved in the investigation of the Soham murders had committed child pornography offences for which he was convicted. 

I have had a prolonged interest in true crime - hence my decision to study criminal law. Prior to this dream I had written a short section of my PhD thesis, discussing the new secret identity and anonymity granted to Maxine Carr in connection with the Soham Murders. I recall vividly the police investigation when the girls initially disappeared and also the appeal by Beckham and have read/discussed this case on various occasions. The Soham Murders are burned onto the  public consciousness and Huntley remains a figure of intense hatred and repulsion, while Carr's current circumstances are largely unknown, save for the fact that she has had relationships, may be married and now has a child. Both Huntley and Carr are periodically mentioned in the media in connection with the Soham Murders and the aftermath.

Maxine Carr (b. 1977) & Ian Huntley (b. 1974)
Holly Wells & Jessica Chapman (1991 - 2002) - the photograph released to the media at the start of the police investigation into their disappearance was taken on the day of their murder

In this dream, I was Jessica Chapman, but my name in the dream was 'Alice'. I knew I was Jessica because I was with Holly. We were both in Huntley's home, although he did not physically appear in the dream at any stage. I was terrified and wanted to leave, as if I knew something awful was about to happen to Holly and I. The room was quite dimly lit and I am not sure what type of room we were in exactly - although it appeared to be a laundry room or kitchen. I could see white surfaces/furniture items. Suddenly I saw Holly had been put in a washing machine, which was on a spin cycle, filled with water. This was how Huntley had murdered her. I knew I was about to be murdered next. I started screaming: 'Huntley put Holly in the washing machine and she's shrunk to death!' I could see that Holly (not yet dead) - her face distorted by fear and pain, pushed up against the glass door of the washing machine - had been shrunk down to the size of a doll. She looked twisted and deformed. I was hysterical at both her murder by Huntley and the knowledge that I was about to suffer a similar fate. 

I suddenly found myself floating above a country-side landscape with green fields and hedgerows. It was daylight and the sky was greyish-white. I could feel the fresh air/breeze on my face. I knew I was escaping Huntley and my own murder. I felt in a state of abject panic and dismay about the loss of Holly, my best friend. I woke up terrified and disgusted by this dream. 

Afterwards, I felt compelled to watch a documentary about the Soham Murders. Until I watched the documentary I had not consciously realised that Huntley (in his defence at trial) claimed Holly had accidentally drowned in bath water, but I must have subconsciously known this fact from watching/reading the news at the time of his trial/conviction which in my dream was symbolised by her being submerged in the water within the operative washing machine. While watching the documentary I was also made aware that I am acquainted (via my previous employment) with the barrister who prosecuted Huntley - I have met him on several occasions in a professional context.

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