Wright 'ruled out' of Norfolk murders

POLICE admitted last night they had found no links between serial killer Steve Wright and the deaths of two Norfolk prostitutes and the disappearance of a third.

Jonathan Barnes

POLICE admitted last night they had found no links between serial killer Steve Wright and the deaths of two Norfolk prostitutes and the disappearance of a third.

Forces in Suffolk and Norfolk have been working together to establish any other possible victims in the six months since Wright, 50, was convicted of murdering five Ipswich prostitutes in late 2006.

It was widely speculated that Wright may also have been involved in the unsolved murders of Norwich prostitutes Natalie Pearman and Michelle Bettles and the disappearance of Kellie Pratt.

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Wright used to run a pub, the Ferry Boat Inn, in the heart of Norwich's red-light district for a spell in the late 1980s.

But Norfolk Constabulary said last night that no evidence had been uncovered to suggest Wright was responsible for the deaths.

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A force spokesman said: “We have liaised closely with our colleagues in Suffolk to review all the information regarding Steve Wright and our outstanding cases, including the investigations into the deaths of Michelle Bettles, Natalie Pearman and the disappearance of Kellie Pratt.

“At this time no links have been found. Clearly, if any further information comes to light and it is appropriate, we will re-examine our files.

“Our investigations remain live inquiries and we always welcome any new information from members of the public in relation to any of these matters.”

Suffolk police confirmed no new links had emerged between Wright and any other unsolved case.

Earlier this year, the Metropolitan Police said it was increasingly unlikely that Wright was involved in the death of London estate agent Suzy Lamplugh, who disappeared in 1986. It is thought the killer knew Miss Lamplugh from their days working on the QE2.

Forklift truck driver Wright, of London Road, Ipswich, was jailed for life in February after being found guilty of murdering Gemma Adams, 25, Tania Nicol, 19, Anneli Alderton, 24, Paula Clennell, 24 and Annette Nicholls, 29.

He strangled or suffocated his victims and their naked bodies were found in isolated spots near Ipswich in a horrifying 10-day spell in December 2006. Wright, who was jailed for life, denied the five murders and has been refused leave to appeal against his convictions.

Following the sentence, Detective Chief Inspector Stewart Gull, who led Suffolk police's investigation, said officers would be working with other forces to establish if there were any links between Wright and any historic cases.

The most likely links appeared to be over the Norfolk border. Prostitute Natalie Pearman, 16, was found strangled in the Ringlands Hill area of Norwich after disappearing from the red-light area of the city in 1992.

In 2000, working girl Kellie Pratt, 29, went missing from the same area of the city - her body has never been found - while Michelle Bettles, 22, another sex worker, disappeared from the red-light area in 2002. Her body was found strangled near Dereham three days after she went missing.

Michelle Bettles' father last night said he still believed it was “a possibility” that Steve Wright was involved in his daughter's death.

“There has got to be a possibility because of his lifestyle and the details that came out in the case,” said John Bettles, 53, who lives in Yorkshire.

“As far as I'm aware Norfolk police haven't interviewed him so I don't know how they can rule him out.

“I have had absolutely zero communication from them in the last 12 months. I had one call to say a cold case team had been set up and that was it. I am totally disgruntled with the police.”

Speaking in January, Natalie Pearman's mother Lin, 61, said: “There's no link, as far as I know, at the moment.

“The police have told me that and I have no reason to doubt them.”

She added: “I don't make links. We've had so many false hopes over the years that I tend to blank it out.

“I still want to find answers. I have been waiting for 15 years.”

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