A FORMER Huddersfield man was taking centre stage today at the start of the Soham murder trial.
Stephen Coward - a former pupil of King James's Grammar School in Almondbury - is to defend Ian Huntley at the Old Bailey against charges of murdering Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman in Soham, Cambridgeshire.
Mr Coward QC, 65, has practised as a barrister for 39 years.
He lived in Lockwood Road in Huddersfield until he was 19.
He became a QC in 1984 and was appointed a Recorder in 1980.
Married in 1967, he has four daughters.
Mr Coward studied at University College, London.
He lectured in law and constitutional history at his former college and at the Police Staff College from 1962-64 before being called to the Bar.
From then he practised on the Midland and Oxford Circuit.
He lists his recreations as "trying to grow calceolarias and a decent row of peas".
Mr Coward now lives in Northamptonshire.
He will be assisted by two junior counsel.
Michael Hubbard, QC, 61, heads a team of three representing Huntley's girlfriend Maxine Carr at the trial.
The prosecution was not expected to set out its full evidence against the pair until later in the week.
Proceedings will be watched by both sets of parents of the girls.
Huntley, a former school caretaker, and Carr, a former classroom assistant at the girls' primary school, were led up into the dock today.
Both have been in custody since their arrests on August 17 last year, the same day the girls' bodies were found 17 miles away from Soham.
The schoolgirls' disappearance captured the attention of the nation.
Both youngsters were wearing Manchester United shirts with the number 7 worn by the then United and England star David Beckham when they disappeared.
They had been playing at Holly's home during the afternoon. The majorette's parents Kevin, 40, and Nicola, 36, photographed the friends smiling in their matching red tops an hour before they vanished.