Murder suspect appears in court

VIDEO Murder accused Steven Wright has faced magistrates after arriving at court among a cavalcade of police vehicles.More than a hundred journalists from all over the world and members of the public gathered to watch the 48-year-old being driven into South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court in Elm Street, Ipswich.

MOTORISTS are able to use the old Ipswich to Felixstowe road today near to the sites in Nacton and on the outskirts of Levington where three women's bodies were found.

The reopening of the road comes as Steve Wright, man accused of murdering five women, is currently in custody awaiting his second court hearing which will take place early in the new year.

Wright faced magistrates for the first time yesterday after arriving at South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court among a cavalcade of police vehicles.

The 48-year-old stands accused of the murder of Tania Nicol, 19, Gemma Adams, 25, Annelie Alderton, 24, Paula Clennell, 24 and Annette Nicholls, 29.

Wright, of London Road, Ipswich, entered the dock in court three flanked by two police officers.

Dressed in a black suit, white shirt and black and white tie he spoke only to confirm his name as Steven Gerald James Wright and his date of birth as April 18 1958.

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The courtroom was packed full of journalists who struggled to gain seats. There were also several ushers and clerks in attendance.

The clerk in the case read out the charges that between October 30 and December 9 Wright was accused of killing Tania Nicol, between November 30 and December 3; he was alleged to have killed Gemma Adams, between December 2 and December 11; he was accused of the murder of Annelie Alderton, between December 4 and December 13; he was accused of killing Annette Nicholls and between December 9 and December 13 he is alleged to have killed Paula Clennell.

Wright, who has receding grey hair, showed no emotion throughout the six-minute hearing and his solicitor Paul Osler, who is based in Newmarket, spoke only to say there would be no bail application.

Robert Sadd, prosecuting, told the bench it was a matter of course that he would be remanded in custody and Chairman of the Bench Peter West accompanied by Renu Mandal and Mark Shackell remanded him in custody to appear at Ipswich Crown Court on January 2.

Detective Superintendent Roy Lambert, who is overseeing the inquiry into Annelie Alderton's death was in court to witness proceedings.

Today, 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. He is also a member of Seckford Golf Club.

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

A former forklift truck driver at Felixstowe docks, he previously lived in Beach Station Road in the port town. However it is believed that in recent weeks he worked at Manganese Bronze in Hadleigh Road, Ipswich.

A spokesman for the company said: “The company has no information to offer and therefore makes no comment”

They would not confirm or deny whether he worked there.

Wright, a father-of-three and former QE2 steward and Norwich pub landlord 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.

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.

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 but a cordon today still surrounds his home.

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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