Serial killer's dad: My story

SAT in his lounge watching cricket on TV, Conrad Wright seems relaxed and at ease with the world.

Anthony Bond

SAT in his lounge watching cricket on TV, Conrad Wright seems relaxed and at ease with the world.

With his two poodles for company, and a bet placed on the horses, the Felixstowe resident looks like a man who is enjoying his retirement.

However here sits a man whose life has been turned upside down.

At the end of 2006 his son Steve Wright murdered five prostitutes on the outskirts of Ipswich.

Yet despite all the evidence against 50-year-old Wright - which led to him being sent to prison for life in February - Conrad, 71, still finds it difficult to believe his son was responsible.

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“I am still finding it hard to believe that he did all of this,” the retired RAF policeman said.

“I have never ever thought that he was capable of killing these women and I cannot believe it now. I cannot see him strangling a girl naked and taking her down a road in a car and chucking her in a ditch. He could not kill a rabbit.

“If he was a violent boy and in trouble with the police all the time then I could understand it, but he was not like that. He was just a normal boy full of mischief and that is why, despite all of the evidence against him, I cannot see him doing it.”

Former forklift truck driver Wright was refused leave to appeal in July after he claimed he did not receive a fair trial following his arrest over the murders of Tania Nicol, 19, Gemma Adams, 25, Anneli Alderton, 24, Paula Clennell, 24, and Annette Nicholls, 29.

He is currently pursuing a second attempt at appealing against his conviction and, if successful, he would face three judges in an open court hearing.

Conrad, who last spoke to Wright at a family wedding in 2002, has always said he would know if his son was guilty by looking him in the eye. But when he attempted to visit him at Belmarsh Prison following his arrest, Wright refused to see him.

And although Conrad, who lives with his second wife Valerie, believes that a fresh appeal is a waste of time, he says it would give him an opportunity to find out some answers.

“He has had his court case and he has been refused an appeal before. It seems to me that it is what prisoners do once they are found guilty and receive a life sentence. They just come up with these appeals and it seems like a hobby for prisoners wasting people's time.

“But I hope that he gets another hearing. If it happens I will be there. I want to go and see what he thinks a fair trial is. But if I get close to him he will probably run a mile when he sees me. I will look at him and see if he looks at me. If he is guilty he will not enter the room.”

Conrad attended Ipswich Crown Court every day during the five-week trial and had to sit through hours of graphic evidence detailing his son's sexual history. And he says because of this he could not bring himself to sit with the families of the five murdered girls.

“I was given a seat with the families in the main court room but I did not want to sit next to the men and women whose daughters had been murdered so I sat in the annexe with the media.

“It was unbelievable what he was coming out with about his sexual habits, especially when they said he was going golfing and then going to a massage parlour and paying them £60 but that he could get it cheaper from girls on the streets.

“I just could not believe that he was doing that - just think if I had been sitting in that other court room with the families when he was spouting all of this?”

And despite Conrad struggling to believe his son's guilt, he readily admits that his son told bare-faced lies in court.

“He stood up in court and said he was driving around the red light district in the early hours of the morning because he could not sleep, but that is rubbish as far as I am concerned. He also said he was laying the girls on his jacket on the floor of the bedroom having sex with them but I do not believe that for a start.”

Since his prosecution psychologists have told how they think Wright could have killed before.

This has led many to believe that Wright - who ran the Ferry Boat Inn in the heart of Norwich's red light district during the late 80's- could be responsible for the unsolved murders of two prostitutes from the Norfolk town between 1992 and 2002 and the disappearance of a third.

Conrad reluctantly agrees that his son could have been involved in the Norwich murders, but like the Ipswich murders, he finds it difficult to comprehend.

“It could be possible that he did the Norwich ones. Girls were killed in Norwich that have never been found and clothes from the girls murdered in Ipswich have never been found, so if someone can hide bodies that can never be found then they can hide clothes.

“If he admits to me that he is guilty of the Ipswich murders then it is possible I suppose. But what you are saying is that I have sat here in my home talking to somebody who has committed murder two or three times. If he had murdered those girls from Norwich how can he come and sit here and watch TV and come to the cricket with me? I cannot see it.”

Following the trial one national newspaper quoted Conrad saying that his son deserved to die, but he denies this and says he was misquoted. “What I said was that I would probably feel the same as the victims' families if my daughter was killed and some of them said he should be hanged. But I also said that that could be the easy way out, maybe life in prison is more of a punishment.”

Perhaps surprisingly, given the disturbing aspects of the case and the world-wide media coverage, Conrad says he has never experienced any hassle from people on the streets.

“Everybody treats me well, people seem to go out of their way to be nice. I get fussed a lot of the time. Maybe it is because people feel pity for me.”

What is clear is that six months following his son's conviction, Conrad still cannot take in the fact that his son is a serial killer. “I went to court to find out the truth and I have got to accept how it finished,” he said.

“He is gone. I have got to believe what happened and that there is nothing I can do to change that. But I will never believe he was capable of doing it unless he tells me himself.”

Asked if he missed his son, Conrad replied: “Oh Christ, yeah, I miss him”.