Police scour suspects' homes

DETECTIVES were last night given a further 36 hours to question a man on suspicion of killing five prostitutes - as meticulous examinations of his Ipswich home continued.

DETECTIVES were last night given a further 36 hours to question a man on suspicion of killing five prostitutes - as meticulous examinations of his Ipswich home continued.

Steve Wright's bedsit, in London Road, remained sealed off throughout yesterday, with the front and rear of the property covered by scaffolding.

Scenes of crime officers wearing white suits and masks were seen going and in and out of the address, on the edge of the town's red light district.

Police now have until 5am tomorrow to quiz the 48-year-old but can apply for a 24-hour extension if needed. After that time, they will either have to charge or release him.

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Fellow suspect Tom Stephens, of Jubilee Close, Trimley St Martin, was also still in police custody last night.

Detectives have been granted permission by a magistrate to continue questioning the 37-year-old until 7.20am today and have the option to apply for a further extension of 24 hours.

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A decision on whether to charge or release Mr Stephens will have to be made by 7.20am tomorrow.

Mr Wright was led out of his home still wearing his night clothes early on Tuesday morning. He was arrested on suspicion of murdering Tania Nicol, 19, Gemma Adams, 25, Anneli Alderton, 24, Paula Clennell, 24, and Annette Nicholls, 29.

Mr Stephens is also suspected of killing the five Ipswich prostitutes, whose bodies were found between December 2 and 12.

Yesterday, a large area around Mr Wright's London Road home remained sealed off as police looked to secure the potential crime scene.

Four wheelie-bins were seen being taken away by Ipswich Borough Council employees yesterday but it is not known if this is significant to the investigation. Door to door inquiries were also taking place in the area.

In Jubilee Close, Trimley St Martin, the home of 37-year-old Mr Stephens was still the subject of painstaking investigations throughout yesterday.

Officers are looking for clues that could either link the two men to the deaths of the five women or eliminate them from their inquiries.

More than 500 officers from more than 30 forces are currently working on the investigation.

Yesterday, Mr Wright's father, Conrad, 72, told a national newspaper he did not believe his son, who he has not seen since 2001, could have carried out the killings.

“When I heard there had been an arrest of a 48-year-old man in Ipswich I actually piped up and said, 'Steve's 48 and lives in Ipswich'. But I never thought it would be him in a million years.

“I don't actually think he's clever enough to commit these crimes, they take a level of intelligence that I don't think Steve has. He's just not capable of killing people.”

He added: “My son could not have done something horrific like this.”

Mr Wright, a lorry driver based in Mendlesham, moved to London Road recently with his partner Pamela, who works in IT support at a call centre in Felixstowe.

Mr Wright's stepmother yesterday spoke of her family's anguish as her stepson continued to be questioned.

Speaking at her home in Queen Street, Felixstowe, she said: “We are completely devastated and that's it. We have not managed to speak to him and we can't say any more.”

The 60-year-old has been married to Mr Wright's father, Conrad, a retired Felixstowe docks police officer, for nearly 40 years.

Mrs Wright said of her stepson: “He was born in Erpingham in Norfolk. My husband Conrad was in the RAF and a few years later he moved abroad with his dad when he was a baby. Then when he was older he used to run a pub in Norwich.”

It has also emerged her stepson, Mr Wright, was a regular client of prostitutes in Norfolk and used to be landlord of the Ferry Boat Inn, in King Street, Norwich, a regular haunt for prostitutes and their clients in the 1980s and 1990s.

Two former Norwich prostitutes claim he used to wear camouflage trousers and would regularly try to pick them up clad in high heels and a PVC skirt, while also wearing a wig.

Tina, 45, who worked the streets in Norwich between 1996 and 2004, said: “I didn't want to get in a car with him and would never have got in a car with him. Most of the girls never got in the car with him. I never did business with him, he just freaked me out so much.

“The police were aware of him because he sometimes scared the girls that much. He would pull up and not leave until you got into the car. He did get narked when you didn't get in the car.”

Another former prostitute who remembered Mr Wright is Tracey Kennett, 32. She said she “went cold” when she saw Wright's picture on television.

She said: “I never got in the car with him. He wore wigs and was into cross dressing - I've seen him dressed as a woman with a black wig.”

After his stint in the Norwich pub, Mr Wright spent 12 years working as a steward on the QE2.

He married his first wife Angela in 1978, they moved to Wales and had three children together. The couple divorced and he married Diane Cassell in 1987 but they too divorced.

He later met his now common law wife Pamela and shared a flat with her in Bell Close, Ipswich before moving to London Road in September.

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