Prosecution makes final preparations

RED-light killings accused Steve Wright faces one more night in prison tonight before prosecutors reveal to the world their case against him.The man accused of murdering five sex workers in Ipswich watched as a jury of ten men and two women was sworn in at Ipswich Crown Court.

Grant Sherlock

RED-light killings accused Steve Wright faces one more night in prison tonight before prosecutors reveal to the world their case against him.

The man accused of murdering five sex workers in Ipswich watched as a jury of ten men and two women was sworn in at Ipswich Crown Court.

That process paved the way for the opening of the prosecution case, which is due to begin tomorrow after legal discussions are held today.

Wright, a forklift truck driver from London Road, Ipswich, appeared in the dock in court one of Ipswich Crown Court yesterday dressed in a black suit, white shirt and black striped tie for the first day of a trial which is expected to last at least six weeks.

The 49-year-old denies murdering Tania Nicol, 19; Paula Clennell, 24; Anneli Alderton, 24; Gemma Adams, 25, and Annette Nicholls, 29, during a six-week period in 2006.

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The women's naked bodies were found in rural locations on the outskirts of Ipswich between December 2, 2006 and December 12, 2006.

After he was brought into the dock, the court clerk asked Wright if he was Steve Gerald James Wright. Craning forward, he responded: “Sorry, I can't hear you.” She repeated the question and he answered “yes”.

He then sat in the first row of seats behind the inch-thick security glass holding a small pile of papers in his hands and listening to proceedings through a set of headphones.

Much of the morning session was taken up with administrative matters handled by Peter Wright QC, who is heading the prosecution team, and Timothy Langdale QC, who heads Wright's defence team.

Wright, a balding former pub landlord, was accompanied in the dock by four security guards as he watched the jury, selected from a pool of 114 people, being sworn in.

Before their names were read out in court, the clerk told Wright he should indicate if he knew any of the prospective jury members.

Earlier he had arrived at the Russell Road court in a prison van escorted by two police vehicles. When the van arrived at court it entered the complex via a side gate and then disappeared from view.

The 114 potential jurors called to Ipswich Crown Court yesterday were whittled down to 24 after being asked a series of questions, including whether they knew the victims or witnesses in the case.

The twelve who were sworn in were asked by judge Mr Justice Gross to carefully consider their suitability to sit on the jury overnight and to alert the court today if they thought of anything which might stand in the way of them remaining on the jury.

The remaining 12 were kept as reserves should any of the jury members rule themselves out of sitting in the case.

Earlier Mr Justice Gross had taken the step of instructing the large group of potential jury members via videolink about the questionnaires they were to fill in.

The questionnaire dealt with matters such as whether they knew any of the five victims or any witnesses in the case, or whether they had connections to certain occupations or the media.

Mr Justice Gross stressed they must ignore media reports they had read, heard or seen about the case. He said: “This will be your case to decide on and only on the evidence you will hear. You're the judges of fact. On the law, you must accept what I tell you.”

He added: “You may well have seen or heard media reporting of this matter. You may well see or hear more. Ignore such reports. Do not let them influence you in any way.”

He also told them they must not do any of their own research into the case and not to discuss the case with friends and family members.

He said: “Do not try to obtain information elsewhere - for example, on the internet - about the case or any matters which are raised in the course of the trial.”

After the jury was sent home until 10.30am tomorrow, Wright was ferried back to his cell in a prison van, once again escorted by police cars at front and rear. Police officers stopped traffic as the convoy left the court complex.