Remembering Paula on her birthday

WEDNESDAY should have been a time of joy to be cherished in the life of Paula Clennell.However, instead of celebrating her 25th birthday those who knew her as a caring - yet ultimately tragic - young woman, before her spiral into drugs and prostitution, were still mourning her death.

WEDNESDAY should have been a time of joy to be cherished in the life of Paula Clennell.

However, instead of celebrating her 25th birthday those who knew her as a caring - yet ultimately tragic - young woman, before her spiral into drugs and prostitution, were still mourning her death.

Miss Clennell's body was discovered near Levington last month, near the body of 29-year-old Annette Nicholls.

Three other women, Gemma Adams 25, Tania Nicol, 19, and Anneli Alderton, 25, were also killed within a six-week period.

Today, the grandmother of Miss Clennell's children spoke with sorrow and affection of the girl who fell in love with her son, Elton.

Anita, whose full name cannot be printed for legal reasons, said she first met Miss Clennell seven years ago when the then 17-year-old began going out with her son.

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“She just seemed a really pleasant girl and nice to talk to. She never used to go out. She was definitely more of an introvert then. She was always coming here. She enjoyed it because it was like a big family atmosphere.”

Anita said Miss Clennell struggled to cope after having three children in quick succession and believes it led to post-natal depression.

To cheer her up she took her on holiday to Orlando in Florida in 2001 when Miss Clennell was pregnant with her third child.

Anita said: “She really had a lovely time. She even took a bit of cloth with Elton's aftershave on and put it under her pillow.

“She also took two of the children's little vests and put them under the pillow as well. She used to sniff them each night because she missed them. The children meant everything to her. You would never have thought then that she had a problem.

“She was 19 and had three children one after another. It's hard for anyone to get parenting skills, let alone anyone with three children. I think she had children too quickly.”

When they returned from holiday Miss Clennell sought refuge in drugs to overcome her unhappiness. Mr Norris was also taking drugs at the time.

Anita said: “If someone is offering you something it becomes a crutch and you rely on that crutch. She kept saying she couldn't cope.”

Despite Anita trying to get Elton and Miss Clennell help by taking them to doctors and St Clement's Hospital in Foxhall Road, Ipswich, she was told they would have to wait for treatment.

“Eventually I think they did get on a drugs programme, but they were obviously too far down the line then. I think Paula just wanted a happy family life. She was ever so happy when she was with Elton. She really loved him.”

The family took Miss Clennell back to Florida at the end of 2002, but when they returned her relationship with Elton became increasingly fractured as the drug addiction took hold.

Miss Clennell also lost her children when they were taken into care.

Steve Wright, 48, of London Road, Ipswich, will appear in court on May 1 charged with the murders of all five women.

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