Man due in court over murders

A MAN was due to appear in court in Ipswich today charged with the murder of five women.Steven Wright, 48, was due to appear at South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court today charged with murdering Tania Nicol, 19, Gemma Adams, 25, Annelie Alderton, 24, Paula Clennell, 24, and Annette Nicholls, 29.

A MAN was due to appear in court in Ipswich today charged with the murder of five women.

Steven Wright, 48, was due to appear at South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court today charged with murdering Tania Nicol, 19, Gemma Adams, 25, Annelie Alderton, 24, Paula Clennell, 24, and Annette Nicholls, 29.

Wright's family today gave their reaction to the news.

Valerie Wright, his step-mum, who lives in Queen Street, Felixstowe said: “We are just absolutely devastated but I'm not prepared to say any more than that at this stage.”

Wright and his common law wife were regulars at Uncle Tom's Cabin in Vernon Street, however, no one at the pub wished to comment today.

Due to concerns by Suffolk's chief constable Alastair McWhirter that identification could be an issue during the trial, The Evening Star has decided not to show Wright's face.

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Wright and his partner lived in Bell Close, Ipswich until September when they moved to London Road.

A forklift truck driver at Felixstowe docks, previously lived in Beach Station Road in the port town.

The father-of-three was arrested at his home at about 5am on Monday.

Police applied for extensions to keep him in custody throughout Wednesday and Thursday and, at 10.15pm yesterday revealed he had been charged.

They could have applied to magistrates to keep him in custody until 5am on Saturday.

Meanwhile, 37-year-old Tom Stephens was released on police bail, following his arrest on suspicion of all five murders on Monday.

Stephens was arrested at his home in Jubilee Close, Trimley St Martin and spent nearly four days being quizzed by police.

It is not known where he has been released to.

Police temporarily extended the cordon surrounding his home as further investigations took place but the force last night refused to discuss the reasons for the move. Vans left the area late yesterday afternoon carrying items that had been seized.

Divers are also thought to have been examining the drains in the area. Today Wright's bedsit in London Road remains sealed.

Officers were seen entering the property with a crowbar, sledge hammer and collapsible ladder at one point yesterday.

Searches were also still taking place in Levington, near to the area where the bodies of Miss Clennell and Miss Nicholls were found on December 12.

Detective Chief Superintendent Stewart Gull announced the charges at a press conference at police headquarters in Martlesham last night to announce that Wright had been charged and Stephens had been bailed.

Also at the press conference, Michael Crimp, senior prosecutor for Suffolk Crown Prosecution Service, outlined the process that led to the charging of Wright.

He said: “Working as part of a team of lawyers overseen by the Chief Crown Prosecutor for Suffolk I was briefed on this case prior to any arrests being made and the entire team has kept in close contact with the police throughout.

“We have been working with officers from Suffolk Constabulary for the last eight days advising on a number of preliminary legal issues both before and after arrest.

“As this case has developed we have been carefully examining and assessing the evidence in order to come to a charging decision at the earliest possible opportunity.

“We will continue to keep this case under constant review as it develops.”

Mr Crimp also reminded journalists of the need to take care in reporting the events surrounding the case.

He said: “Steven Wright stands accused of these offences and has the right to a fair trial before a jury.

“It is extremely important that there should be responsible media reporting which should not prejudice the due process of law.”

THE INVESTIGATION

Officers from more than 30 forces are involved in the inquiry - one of the biggest seen in the UK.

They are analysing more than 10,000 pieces of information after public appeals and checking more than 10,000 hours of CCTV footage seized in and around Ipswich.

All five women were found dead near villages south of Ipswich during a ten-day period earlier this month.

Gemma Adams, 25 was found in Belstead Brook at Hintlesham on December 2, Tania Nicol, 19 was discovered in the same stream at Copdock on December 8, Annelie Alderton, 24 was found in woods at Nacton on December 10, and 24-year-old Miss Clennell and 29-year-old Miss Nicholls were found naked in woods at Levington on December 12.

All five worked as prostitutes in Ipswich. Police said they were all found naked although they had not been sexually assaulted.

Miss Alderton was strangled and Miss Clennell died as a result of “compression” to the neck.

Police have not said how Miss Adams, Miss Nicol and Miss Nicholls died. Toxicology tests are being carried out.

Inquests on all five women have been opened and adjourned until a later date.

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