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Wright found guilty on all five murder charges

14:28 21 February 2008

Steve Wright pictured just after his arrest

Steve Wright pictured just after his arrest

SERIAL killer Steve Wright has today been found guilty of murdering five Ipswich sex workers.

The 49-year-old embarked on a “campaign of murder” that saw him prowl through the red light district for victims.

SERIAL killer Steve Wright has today been found guilty of murdering five Ipswich sex workers.

The 49-year-old is expected to be sentenced for the murders of the five prostitutes - Tania Nicol, Gemma Adams, Anneli Alderton, Annette Nicholls and Paula Clennell - early tomorrow morning.

But prosecutor Peter Wright QC said the criteria in respect of a life order were met.

He added: “We place particular emphasis on the significant degree of planning and pre-meditation, the vulnerability of the victims by virtue of their occupation and intoxication and the concealment of the bodies.”

Mr Wright said the aggravating factors included the conduct of the defendant "post-death" in terms of the deposition of the bodies, the posing of the bodies and the circumstances surrounding their disappearance.

Timothy Langdale QC, for Wright, questioned whether the vulnerability of the victims and the concealment of the bodies were aggravating features.

He suggested that instead of a life order a lengthy finite term would suffice.

Mr Langdale said: "Until this man had reached the age of 48 he had never committed any crime remotely approaching those in this case.

“There had been no sign of violence or of any sexual obsession until late 2006."

Mr Langdale added: "It is a matter of speculation as to what caused him to act as the jury have found that he did.

“But that trouble-free history does give ground for there being a real prospect he no longer represents any threat."

Mr Langdale said the period between October and December 19 was "an extraordinary episode" in the defendant's life.

He said there were indications that the defendant was doing very little if anything to conceal the killings.

"It is almost as if nothing he was being more and more obvious. Whether that indicates somebody who was wanting to be caught is something which your Lordship can take into account."

He added: "None of the (points) I seek to advance on his behalf suggest for a moment these are not offences of the greatest seriousness."

Ipswich Crown Court had heard that Wright, of London Road, Ipswich, embarked on a “campaign of murder” that saw him prowl through the red light district for victims.

The thrill of having sex with prostitutes was not enough for him so he murdered five sex workers by compressing their necks or asphyxiating them.

The jury returned to the court at around 2.30pm this afternoon and were asked whether they had reached a verdict on which they were all agreed.

"Yes," replied the foreman.

He was asked on count one, regarding the murder of Miss Nicol, if they had found the defendant guilty or not guilty.

He replied "guilty".

He was asked if they had found the defendant guilty and if it was a verdict upon which they were all agreed.

"Yes," he replied.

He was asked on count two, regarding the murder of Miss Adams, if they had found the defendant guilty or not guilty.

He replied "guilty".

He was asked if they had found the defendant guilty and if it was a verdict upon which they were all agreed.

"It is," he replied.

The foreman was asked on count three, regarding the murder of Miss Nicholls, if they had found the defendant guilty or not guilty.

He replied "guilty".

The foreman was then asked if they had found the defendant guilty and if it was a verdict upon which they are all agreed.

"Yes," he replied.

Asked on count four, regarding the murder of Miss Alderton, if they had found the defendant guilty or not guilty, he replied: "Guilty".

He was asked if they had found the defendant guilty and if it was a verdict upon which they were all agreed.

"Yes," he replied.

He was finally asked on count five, regarding the murder of Miss Clennell, if they had found the defendant guilty or not guilty.

He replied "guilty".

He was asked if they had found the defendant guilty and if it was a verdict upon which they were all agreed.

"Yes," he replied.

Prosecutor Mr Wright asked the judge, Mr Justice Gross, if he was likely to sentence today.

Mr Justice Gross said the chances were it would be early tomorrow.

The court was told Wright had spent 424 days in remand.

During the six week-long trial, the court heard how Wright's victims had all started working the streets to fund their devastating addictions to drugs. It was a choice that would cost them their lives.

The naked bodies of the young women were found in remote countryside locations on the outskirts of Ipswich during a ten-day period in December 2006.

Miss Nicol, 19, and Miss Adams, 25, were the first victims to be found. Their bodies had been dumped in the waters of Belstead Brook and were found at Copdock Mill and Hintlesham.

The body of 24-year-old Miss Alderton, who was three months pregnant, was found next in woodland in Nacton. Her body had been posed in a crucifix shape.

When police were called to Levington, they found Miss Clennell, 24, who had been “hurriedly dumped”. When the police helicopter was launched, the body of 29-year-old Miss Nicholls was found nearby, which again had been posed in a crucifix shape.

When Wright was arrested and charged, no more bodies were found.

The forklift truck driver had admitted that he had sex with four of the women. He had also picked up the fifth - Miss Nicol - with the intention of having sex with her but he said he changed his mind because of her acne and dropped her off again

The former publican also admitted he could have been with the women on the nights they died but had insisted they were alive when they left him.

Wright's defence team claimed the case against Wright “did not add up” and there was “no smoking gun” in the case.

There was a “reasonable possibility” that somebody else encountered and had dealings with the women after the defendant, they said.

Defence counsel Timothy Langdale QC described a man called Tom Stephens - who was arrested twice during the investigation but never charged - as a "real, live candidate", one which even the prosecution could not eliminate.

But the jury of nine men and three women decided Wright was the “common denominator” in the deaths of the five women and found him guilty.

Ipswich Crown Court heard DNA and fibres evidence, as well as CCTV footage, linked him to the women.

Prosecutor Peter Wright QC had told the jurors there was an “innumerable series of coincidences linking Wright to the murder of each of these women”.

He said: “Having sex with them was not sufficient a thrill. He needed more and he achieved it at their expense.”

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