CCTV footage may hold key to killings

DETECTIVES hunting a frenzied killer who has murdered five Ipswich prostitutes are examining thousands of hours' of CCTV footage in the hope it will provide a breakthrough.

By Danielle Nuttall

DETECTIVES hunting a frenzied killer who has murdered five Ipswich prostitutes are examining thousands of hours' of CCTV footage in the hope it will provide a breakthrough.

Officers are faced with the difficult task of sifting through 10,800 hours of footage from Ipswich town centre to identify the last movements of the victims.

They are looking back over six weeks of images taken since the first victim, 19-year-old Tania Nicol, went missing on October 30, until last Sunday, when Paula Clennell was last seen.

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Suffolk police are drafting in a “large number” of officers to help view the footage, Detective Chief Superintendent Stewart Gull said last night.

As well as concentrating on the red light district of Ipswich, they will also look at images taken in Essex, particularly in relation to victim 24-year-old Anneli Alderton, who was last seen catching a train from Harwich to Colchester. Her body was found in Nacton on Sunday.

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They will also analyse camera images of the A12 and A14 roads - including speed camera images - in their hunt for the killer's vehicle. Last night, automatic number-plate recognition technology was also brought in from Merseyside police to monitor vehicles in Ipswich town centre.

The development came as police confirmed the identity of the fourth body found at Levington, on the outskirts of Ipswich, on Tuesday as that of Miss Clennell, 24.

A post-mortem examination revealed the mother-of-three had died as a result of compression to the neck.

This is a “subtle” difference to the post-mortem findings on the body of Miss Alderton, whose body was discovered in Nacton on Sunday. She had been strangled.

Det Ch Supt Gull, overseeing the largest police investigation in Suffolk's history, said officers needed to know the movements of the latest victims - the fifth of which has not been identified but is still believed to be Annette Nicholls, 29 - to push their investigation forward.

“Clearly we are trying to capture CCTV images of Anneli somewhere between Colchester and Ipswich to see what she was wearing,” he said.

“We have captured preliminary images of Tania Nicol, which we have released.

“Clearly we have harvested as much CCTV available to us - that's ongoing in respect of Anneli, Paula and Annette. Once we know where they were we can focus in on that area.

“We need to keep an open mind. We could be looking for somebody local. It's obvious the main arterial route, the A14, runs right through the county.

“I have no doubt the offender or offenders responsible are using some form of transport.”

He said they might be driving a van or larger vehicle.

In his daily briefing to the media yesterday, Det Ch Supt Gull said officers would be seizing mobile phone records of all of the girls known to use a phone to see if it led to any clues about their killer.

“Mobile telephone data - that's a natural line of inquiry. We can look at historic call data,” he said.

“Certainly, Tania and Gemma I know had access to mobile phones. We have not recovered those.

“It's a common procedure for all these girls to use a mobile phone so clearly that's an area we are looking at. I need to establish whether the other three girls had them.”

They will also look at individuals who supplied drugs to the victims, it was confirmed.

Police have been investigating a report made to a member of the media by two girls who said they had seen Miss Alderton getting into a blue BMW car.

A spokesman for Suffolk police said last night they had spoken to a person matching the description they gave.

He added: “We now need to speak to the girls again to eliminate this person from our enquiries.”

Det Ch Supt Gull yesterday dismissed reports the victims had been shaved before being dumped but he did say Miss Adams and Miss Nicol were still wearing some jewellery when they were discovered.

The police chief also ruled out a link between the five deaths in Ipswich and the murder of Natalie Pearman in Norwich in 1992, which had been subject to speculation.

The body of the fifth woman remained at the scene for most of yesterday before being transported to Ipswich Hospital for a post-mortem examination. The results of this and the woman's identity are expected to be revealed today.

Tests are ongoing on various items of clothing handed to police but until they have a clear image of what the last three victims were wearing - in a CCTV image - it is hard to assess the relevance of these.

Det Ch Supt Gull said it was possible the killer was keeping the girls' clothing as a trophy but on the other hand he could be forensically aware and disposing of the items.

He said he did not know whether the killer was taunting police by placing the bodies in the open and so close to a road. He said it could be that he just wanted them to find them.

Police are appealing for anyone who saw anything suspicious in the area of Levington since Sunday to contact them urgently.

They are particularly interested in two lay-bys on the Old Felixstowe Road, just a few hundred yards from the site of the bodies, which are well-used by passing motorists.

Anyone with information on any part of the inquiry should call 0800 096 1011, email, text 07624 800174 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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