Expert's work to identify car on CCTV

VIDEO A vehicle identification expert was drafted into the investigation of the red light killings in order to pinpoint the kind of car caught on CCTV footage, the court heard today.

A VEHICLE identification expert was drafted into the investigation of the red light killings in order to pinpoint the kind of car caught on CCTV footage, the court heard today.

Andrew Wooler, of the Transport Research Foundation, was asked to look at a range of CCTV footage in relation to the case.

The first was taken by a camera on Bibb Way, looking out onto Handford Road, at around 11pm on October 30, 2006, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Mr Wooler said the footage featured a dark, medium-sized hatchback.

He told the court that after examining the details of the car he was able to come up with a shortlist of six possible vehicles it could be.

These were a Mark III Ford Mondeo hatchback, a Mark I Ford Mondeo hatchback, a 1996 to 1999 Nissan Primera, a Saab 93 hatchback, a Volvo S60 and a Mitsubishi Gallant hatchback.

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Mr Wooler said, of the six, the Mark III Ford Mondeo hatchback seemed to be the most likely make of car seen in the CCTV footage.

He told the court that in order to eliminate other models he carried out a reconstruction using all six makes of car.

He said the Mark III Ford Mondeo hatchback was similar in size and appearance to the vehicle in the footage, whereas there were differences between the other models.

He told the court that, in his opinion, the car seen on CCTV in Handford Road on the night of October 30, 2006, was a dark-coloured Mark III Ford Mondeo.

“In order to say categorically that the vehicle present on CCTV is a particular make and model it is necessary to find a feature which is unique.

“I don't believe there's a feature that is 100% unique but that would be the only caveat that I would apply,” he said.

“In my opinion it's highly likely that the suspect vehicle here is a Mark III Ford Mondeo.

“From the work we've done we can't find another vehicle which matches the suspect vehicle as well,” Mr Wooler added.

He said he also viewed CCTV footage taken on October 30 at the junction of Portman Road and Sir Alf Ramsey Way.

He said it included images of a car that appeared to be driving around in a circuit.

He said he carried out a similar reconstruction as before - taking photographs of a vehicle in the same position as seen on the CCTV footage.

However, this time instead of carrying out the reconstruction with all six cars he said he used just one - a Mark III Ford Mondeo. He said this vehicle was Steve Wright's own car.

“My assessment of this was that it was a Mark III Mondeo - I didn't consider there was anything else from working with these images,” Mr Wooler told the court.

He said the photographs from the reconstruction were then overlaid onto the images from the CCTV footage.

The defendant's Mark III Mondeo was an exact match, he said.

The jury was shown CCTV footage taken outside Ipswich Town FC's ground, looking down Portman Road towards Princes Street.

Mr Wooler said it was harder to identify cars from the front because the strength of head-lights blurred the view.

He said the car shown in the footage had two unique features. It appeared there was something - a tree-shaped air freshener - hanging from the rear view mirror and a tax disc that was higher up the front window than in other vehicles.

Mr Wooler said the size and shape of the vehicle was consistent with a Ford Mondeo.

He said there was a “very, very good” likelihood that the car shown was a Mark III Ford Mondeo.

For the reconstruction, a police officer was asked to drive “at speed” through the road to recreate the blurred effect seen on film.

While being cross-examined by the defence, Mr Wooler told the court that the image conversion used for the CCTV had distorted some of the finer details.

However, he added that the Mark III Mondeo remained a better candidate than all the other vehicles.

He said the CCTV footage of December 3 just showed the front of a car and it was difficult to ID from this.

However, the position of the tax disc and the air freshener provided a link between the image and the car he was asked to compare it with, he said.

He reiterated his opinion that the car seen in the CCTV images was a Mark III Ford Mondeo because, unlike the other five vehicles, it was an “exact match”.

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

The trial continues.