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Tom Stephens was twice arrested by police

PUBLISHED: 11:45 13 February 2008 | UPDATED: 18:37 10 March 2010

Tom Stephens

Tom Stephens

A MAN called Tom Stephens was twice arrested by police investigating the deaths of five Ipswich prostitutes, a court heard today.

A MAN called Tom Stephens was twice arrested by police investigating the deaths of five Ipswich prostitutes, a court heard today.

He had called police on November 21, 2006 - before any of the women's bodies had been found - and voiced fears he would be seen as the next Ian Huntley, the man convicted of murdering schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.

On December 11 - after the bodies of Gemma Adams, Tania Nicol and Anneli Alderton were found - Mr Stephens told police he would have strangled the women had he been the killer.

He was first arrested on December 16 and contacted police again two days later to say he was worried about whether he had a split personality.

He said he was concerned he was "doing things" and did not know about them, instead going back to his normal persona.

Mr Stephens was arrested again that day, the court heard.

He was never able to establish an alibi and has never been charged with any offence arising from the police investigation, Steve Wright's defence team said.

The series of revelations came in admissions read out by Mark Fenhalls, for the defence, during the trial of Wright.

Wright, 49, of London Road, Ipswich, denies murdering Miss Nicol, 19, Paula Clennell, 24, Anneli Alderton, 24, Miss Adams, 25, and Annette Nicholls, 29, between October 29 and December 13, 2006.

At 00.50am on October 30, police attended London Road following a report of a man sitting in a parked car for some time, the court heard.

They spoke to a man called Tom Stephens who said he was waiting for a friend. A female got into his car and he drove away.

At 1.27am on October 11, the court heard Mr Stephens sent Miss Nicol a text message saying: "I have come back because you say you won't be long so hopefully see you in a minute or two. May be you will bring the shoes with you." It was signed with a kiss "from Tom".

In a statement to police on November 22, Mr Stephens said his arrangement with Miss Nicol was that he would do small jobs for her in return for sexual favours. He said he saw her five or six times a week, the court heard.

He told police he had similar arrangements with other girls but Miss Nicol - who was last seen by her mother at about 10.30pm on October 30 - had been the most "reliable" and "honest”.

Mr Stephens told police after Miss Nicol had seen a client he would take her to score drugs. He told police Miss Nicol would offer to strip naked for clients to earn more money.

The court heard Mr Stephens also exchanged a number of text messages with Miss Clennell in the early morning of October 30.

He said he last saw Miss Nicol when he picked her up at the Kingsley Hotel on London Road, when he took her to buy drugs, the court heard.

On November 1 at 1.24am, Mr Stephens' car was captured by the automatic number plate recognition camera.

At 11.10pm that evening, he contacted a police call centre saying he had confidential information about Miss Nicol.

Mr Stephens said he thought he knew where Miss Nicol was going on the night she disappeared. He gave police his name and contact details and said he was a friend of Tania.

On November 7 and 8, Mr Stephens made further calls to the police, the court heard, and was made the subject of a surveillance operation.

In a statement to police on December 12, Mr Stephens said he had been driving around the red light district of Ipswich for about 20 minutes at 1am. He had not seen Miss Adams only a girl called Nicola Brown.

On December 19, Ms Brown gave a statement to police and said at 1.30am she saw Mr Stephens driving around the red light area. She said he would go around the block about half a dozen times.

She also told police Mr Stephens asked her to alter the time she said she saw him, the court heard.

At 11.50pm on November 15, Mr Stephens was stopped by police and he said he had known both Miss Adams and Miss Nicol. He had been in the red light area at 1am that morning but had not seen Miss Adams, he said.

The court heard how on November 21 - before any of the women's bodies had been found - Mr Stephens called police to tell officers he did not want to be seen as the next Ian Huntley.

On November 22, he was formally interviewed by police and his home was searched.

Two days later, he called police to ask about the enquiry. He offered to visit massage parlours and get information for police and was told not to.

Later, he said he felt suicidal and had been forced to give up his job.

On December 11 - by which time the bodies of Miss Adams, Miss Nicol and Miss Alderton had been found - Mr Stephens went to the temporary police station in London Road.

He spoke to officers about the dead women and said they were all on drugs.

He said he would have strangled the women had he been the killer.

On December 12 - the day the bodies of Miss Nicholls and Miss Clennell were found near Levington - neighbours reported seeing Mr Stephens vacuum cleaning his car, despite the weather being wet.

Later that day, he was observed by police driving from his home in Trimley St Martin.

At 9.30pm, police saw Mr Stephens driving along a single track road towards Levington. He later spent time talking to a BBC journalist, before leaving just after 11pm.

He travelled along the deposition road to get to Ipswich but performed a U-turn shortly before flashing police lights.

He drove back towards Trimley St Martin before finding an alternative route into Ipswich. He later spent nearly two hours in the red light area.

On December 13, he was seen leaving a house in the red light area and collecting something from his car.

Just after midnight, Mr Stephens walked the streets attaching flowers to lampposts. He told officers he thought the girls might have been drugged.

On December 14, he told police he was concerned DNA linking the women to him might be found in his car.

He later told officers how he could drive into the red light district without being seen by CCTV cameras.

On December 15, Mr Stephens told his employers that he had sex with all five women and had acted as a taxi service for them.

That day Mr Stephens was again in the company of a journalist. He then drove to the red light area and walked around for several hours.

He spoke to more journalists on December 16 and later drove to the red light area. At 11pm, he was arrested for the first time, while in his car.

He attended the police station the following day carrying a copy of a national newspaper, which named him as a suspect. He told police he felt suicidal.

On December 18, Mr Stephens called police to say he was worried about whether he had a split personality and if he was "doing things" and did not know about them, instead going back to his normal persona.

He was arrested at 8pm. He answered police questions about his knowledge of the women killed.

The following day, police asked detailed questions about his links to the women but he declined to answer the questions.

His car was seized and forensically examined, as was his house. A DNA sample of Mr Stephens was also taken.

The defence case finished today and the court was adjourned until tomorrow.

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