Man, 48, charged with five murders

DETECTIVES investigating the killing of five women have tonight charged a man with murder.Police said Steve Wright, 48, from Ipswich, had been charged with the murder of all five women - Tania Nicol, Gemma Adams, Anneli Alderton, Paula Clennell and Annette Nicholls.

DETECTIVES have tonight charged 48-year-old Steve Wright with the murder of five Ipswich prostitutes.

Truck driver Wright, of London Road, Ipswich, will be kept in custody and is due to appear before Ipswich magistrates on Friday morning.

He was charged with the murder of all five women - Gemma Adams, 25, Tania Nicol, 19, Anneli Alderton, 24, Paula Clennell, 24, and Annette Nicholls, 29.

Tom Stephens, 37, of Trimley St Martin, near Felixstowe, who was also arrested on suspicion of killing the prostitutes, was released on police bail last night.

Detective Chief Superintendent Stewart Gull announced the major development in the inquiry at a press conference at 10.15pm last night.

He said: “You will be aware that on Monday, 18 December, as part of our investigation into the murders of five women in the Ipswich area, we arrested a suspect at his home address in Trimley.

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“The next day, Tuesday, 19 December, a second suspect was arrested in Ipswich.

“There have been significant ongoing enquiries and interviews during the period that these men have been in custody.

“As a result of these enquiries, the 37-year-old man from Trimley was this evening released on police bail, pending further enquiries. Police will not name this man at this stage.

“The second man, Steven Wright, from Ipswich, has been charged with the murder of all five women - Gemma Adams, Tania Nicol, Anneli Alderton, Paula Clennell and Annette Nicholls.”

Michael Crimp, senior prosecutor for Suffolk Crown Prosecution Service, outlined the process that led to the charging of Mr Wright.

He said: “Working as part of a team of lawyers overseen by the Chief Crown Prosecutor for Suffolk I was briefed on this case prior to any arrests being made and the entire team has kept in close contact with the police throughout.

“We have been working with officers from Suffolk Constabulary for the last eight days advising on a number of preliminary legal issues both before and after arrest.

“As this case has developed we have been carefully examining and assessing the evidence in order to come to a charging decision at the earliest possible opportunity.

“This evening we have made the decision that there is sufficient evidence and authorised that Steven Wright, born on the 24th of April 1958, of London Road, Ipswich, should be charged with the murder of Tania Nicol, Gemma Adams, Anneli Alderton, Annette Nicholls and Paula Clennell.

“We will continue to keep this case under constant review as it develops.”

Mr Crimp reminded journalists of the need to take care in reporting the events surrounding the case.

His comments came after the Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, earlier urged the media to show restraint in its reporting of the deaths of the women and said he would review the coverage if necessary.

Mr Crimp said: “Steven Wright stands accused of these offences and has the right to a fair trial before a jury.

“It is extremely important that there should be responsible media reporting which should not prejudice the due process of law.”

The development came after Crown Prosecution Service sources said lawyers were closely liaising with detectives as they considered the options available.

They said Suffolk's Chief Crown Prosecutor, Ken Caley, would be at the centre of the decision-making process.

Meanwhile, forensic teams were yesterday spending another day examining the homes of the two men as more than 500 officers worked on the investigation.

Police temporarily extended the cordon surrounding Mr Stephens' home, in Jubilee Close, as further investigations took place but the force last night refused to discuss the reasons for the move. Vans left the area late yesterday afternoon carrying items that had been seized.

Scenes of crime officers were still probing the Victorian bedsit of Mr Wright, in London Road. Officers were seen entering the property with a crowbar, sledge hammer and collapsible ladder at one point.

At the same time, searches were still taking place in Levington, near to the area where the bodies of Paula Clennell and Annette Nicholls were found on December 12.

Officers from more than 30 forces are involved in the inquiry - one of the biggest seen in the UK.

They are analysing more than 10,000 pieces of information after public appeals and checking more than 10,000 hours of CCTV footage seized in and around Ipswich.

Sources said Mr Stephens, who worked at the Tesco store in Martlesham Heath, near Ipswich, was an ex-Norfolk special constable and a former taxi driver.

Mr Wright, who ran a pub in Norwich in the late 1980s, worked as a forklift truck driver until a few months ago. In recent weeks he is thought to have been working in a metal factory.

All five women were found dead near villages south of Ipswich during a 10-day period earlier this month.

Gemma Adams was found in Belstead Brook at Hintlesham on December 2, Tania Nicol was discovered in the same stream at Copdock on December 8, Anneli Alderton was found in woods at Nacton on December 10, and Miss Clennell and Miss Nicholls were found naked in woods at Levington on December 12.

All five worked as prostitutes in Ipswich. Police said they were all found naked although they had not been sexually assaulted.

Miss Alderton was strangled and Miss Clennell died as a result of “compression” to the neck.

Police have not said how Miss Adams, Miss Nicol and Miss Nicholls died. Toxicology tests are being carried out.

Inquests on all five women have been opened and adjourned until a later date.