Ipswich murders 10 years on: Steve Wright’s father Conrad still seeking answers

Conrad Wright

Conrad Wright - Credit: Archant

Bewilderment is still the overriding emotion running through Conrad Wright’s mind.

Steve Wright

Steve Wright - Credit: PA

For the past 10 years Conrad Wright has struggled to believe his son Steve is among the most notorious murderers the country has known after his conviction for killing five Ipswich sex workers.

The 80-year-old still can not fathom why, or even if, his now 58-year-old son Steve Gerald James Wright murdered Tania Nicol, Gemma Adams, Anneli Alderton, Paula Clennell, and Annette Nicholls in late 2006.

The pensioner, who lives in Walton, near Felixstowe, has not heard from Wright since he wrote to him denying the killings from Belmarsh prison while awaiting trial.

Asked what he would say to his son if he was able to talk to him, Mr Wright snr said: “I think it’s time to clean the slate and be a man and if you’ve done it own up to it.

Gemma Adams, Annette Nicholls, Anneli Alderton, Tania Nicol and Paula Clennell Montage by Jon Elsey

Gemma Adams, Annette Nicholls, Anneli Alderton, Tania Nicol and Paula Clennell Montage by Jon Elsey - Credit: Archant

“It would only hurt me if he’s not guilty. If he’s guilty I’m afraid you’ve got to take your punishment. Even if he said ‘I did it, dad. I’m sorry’.

“It would be nice one way or the other to know whether he did it – for me and the families.

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“There is a time when you’ve got to say ‘I’ve got to own up’.

“Is there a possibility that he doesn’t even know he’s done it? I don’t know what goes through people’s heads when they do it.

“He’s never been in contact with me [since the letter] and never once asked to see me.

“He’s never rung me since. He’s never tried to talk to me. It makes me think he’s got something to hide. I can’t see how he could do it.

“How could you end up with five naked bodies and dump them and not get seen? I went to Belmarsh Prison after he got arrested. I got a letter for a visitor’s pass.

“I filled in the form and went to Belmarsh, went through the searches and thought ‘I don’t think I want to come back here again’.

“The officer said ‘go and sit in the waiting room and I’ll get him to come out’. Then he came back and said ‘he’s refusing to come out’.”

Mr Wright snr believes if his son did murder the five women he may not have been the only person involved, although police have never charged anyone else, nor was it suggested at Wright’s Ipswich Crown Court trial in 2008.

Two of the women, Anneli and Annette, were posed in a cruciform position at the locations where they were dumped in Nacton and near Levington.

Mr Wright snr said: “I can’t understand where Steve got the crucifix position from.

“I don’t know how anyone could have done that. I can’t see anyone could have done that on their own either.

“I still can’t get to the bottom of it, really, in my own mind. I can’t believe it.”

“It doesn’t seem possible for anybody, let alone Steve.”

“But people have lost their daughters and there were little kids [who lost their mothers].

“I never stop thinking about the girls and their families. This should never have happened.”

No aggression, just silence

Conrad Wright said people have not held the sins of his son against him.

He said: “People have been as nice as pie to me.

“I play cricket for Suffolk Over 70s and everyone’s as nice as pie.

“They don’t discuss it. They give it a wide berth.”

Even those who are acquaintances or meet him for the first time have not been ill-mannered.

He said: “I have never been approached by anyone with any aggression – there’s just silence.”

Mr Wright had four children including Steve Wright during his marriage to his first wife, Patricia, who left the family in the late 1960s and went to live with her sister in Dunstable.

It was a parting some have attributed to having a very deep effect on the young Steve.

His father subsequently married his second wife, Valerie, with whom he was to have two more children.

Valerie died from cancer five-and-a-half years ago and now Mr Wright snr lives with his little rescue dog Jessie for company.

He said: “He [Steve] got on all right with Valerie.”

“I always helped Steve out when he was stuck for money and what have you.

“We have never had an argument at all. He used to come to cricket and watch, and we would have a couple of pints.

“He was a good boy, really, never any trouble – a bit mischievious. He did live here quite a bit prior to all this happening.”

When Steve Wright moved out he lived across the road from his father for a time before going off to Ipswich.

“He lived with Pam, who was quite a bit older than him. I had never seen her before.

“They went off to Ipswich overnight, but I didn’t have a clue where they went to.”

Mr Wright believes his son played ‘second fiddle’ on occasions in the relationship.

He said: “I sometimes thought he was domineered.

“What I can’t understand is how he’s gone and killed five girls at a time when he was living with a partner and her son.

“I went to go round to where all these girls were found. I wanted to get an insight into it and see if I could feel anything. I thought ‘how the hell can he do that?’

“How could he murder five people while he’s been living with a woman and her son in the house?”

Mr Wright snr no longer has any photos of his son in his house.

He said: “I thought the only way I was going to stop thinking and worry-gutting was to get rid of them.”

Killer blamed his unhappy childhood

In his last communication with his father in a letter written while on remand at Belmarsh prison Steve Wright blamed an unhappy childhood for his emotional failings as an adult.

Still in denial he also told his dad: “…but when you said in the paper that when you looked in my eyes you would know whether I was guilty or not that really hurt me.

“It was like a knife in the heart for you to even contemplate that I could be capable of such a terrible crime.”

Steve Wright was born in 1958 at RAF West Beckham in Norfolk where his father served as a corporal.

When his father was posted abroad Wright lived in Leiston with his grandparents for five years.

He studied at Leiston High School before getting his first job as a waiter in Aldeburgh.

His marriage to his first wife Angela lasted around seven years and the couple had a child.

Wright joined the Merchant Navy before becoming a steward on the QEII. He spent six years on board.

Much was made in the national press at the time of his arrest of him working on the luxury ship with Suzy Lamplugh, who went missing in 1986.

Wright met his second wife Diane and married in Braintree in August 1987. The couple settled in Halstead.

Wright worked as an odd-job man before going into the pub trade managing The Ferry Boat Inn in Norwich where murdered vice girls Natalie Pearman, 16, and Michelle Bettles, 22 – who were murdered in 1996 and 2002 – often drank. Their murders remain unsolved.

Wright then moved to pubs in London, Essex and Haverhill, before returning to live with his father in Walton.

Steve Wright gambled excessively on the horses and borrowed money to fund a ‘sex tourist trip’ to Thailand.

He subsequently declared himself bankrupt. In 2003 he admitted he stole £80 while working at a pub in Felixstowe as barman.

The DNA swab taken by police would prove the crucial link to the first DNA match in Operation Sumac on Anneli Alderton’s body. Wright’s DNA was also found on Paula Clennell and Annette Nicholls.

The keen golfer went on to work as a forklift truck driver at Felixstowe Docks, before going on to work in Hadleigh, Great Blakenham and Mendlesham.

Wright met his final partner Pam at Felixstowe bingo hall in 2000.

The couple moved to Ipswich and lived in a rented flat in Bell Close where he was a regular at the now closed Uncle Tom’s Cabin pub.

They moved to London Road two months before Wright began his murder spree.

At the time of his arrest he worked at Cerro Manganese Bronze in Hadleigh Road, Ipswich.

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