Sun, Dec 24, 2006 - Page 6 News List

Public jostle to see UK murder suspect at Ipswich court


The door to the glass-paneled dock of an Ipswich court opened at 10.10am on Friday to reveal a balding, grey-haired man dressed in a dark suit and tie.

Steve Wright, 48, the man accused of murdering five women in quick succession, stood composed and still, his hands clasped in front of him.

In a courtroom packed with around 50 journalists, Wright spoke quietly when asked to confirm his name, date of birth and address by the clerk.

He was told that he was charged with the murders of Gemma Adams, 25, Tania Nicol, 19, Anneli Alderton, 24, Paula Clennell, 24, and Annette Nicholls, 29, all of whom worked as prostitutes in the town.

Their bodies were dumped at various locations near the Suffolk town over a period of 10 days.

Wright, a forklift truck driver and former Queen Elizabeth II steward, looked across at the court bench as details of the case against him were briefly outlined. He was flanked by two police officers throughout the eight-minute hearing.

Paul Osler, representing Wright, said his client would not be seeking bail. He was remanded in custody to appear at the town's crown court on January 2.

Speaking after the hearing, Osler said: "Anybody accused of these offenses is going to be distressed by the mere fact of the accusation. Given those circumstances he is bearing up well."

Osler said that his client had been charged at 10pm on Thursday night, 15 minutes before police and the Crown Prosecution Service held a press conference to announce that one man had been charged and another had been released on bail.

Wright had "wanted to appear smartly dressed in court" and had been bought a suit, tie, shirt and shoes by police.

Media coverage of the detention of Wright and Tom Stephens, 37, who was arrested on Monday morning at his home in Felixstowe and released on Thursday night, has caused concern over the possible prejudice of a trial.

Osler said the defense team would analyze all coverage and consider whether "the prosecution has become an abuse of process because there can no longer be a fair trial."

A Queen's Counsel and a barrister would be appointed to represent Wright next month in what was going to be "one of the most serious crown court cases in UK history."

The solicitor said that he was not in a position to discuss what his client would be pleading.

Wright was arrested on Tuesday in a pre-dawn raid at his home on London Road, at the edge of Ipswich's red light district, following the series of killings which occurred at a speed that shocked investigating officers.

The naked body of one woman was found on Dec. 2 in a brook at Hintlesham, Suffolk. She had last been seen on Nov. 15. Another woman was found dead shortly after, having disappeared on Oct. 30. Her body was also discovered in the same fast-flowing waterway at Copdock Mill, not far from the site where the first was found.

On Dec. 10 a third victim was found in a forest at Nacton, outside Ipswich. She had been strangled and was three months pregnant.

Two days later a fourth victim, a mother of three, was uncovered at Levington, a village five miles from Ipswich.

She died as a result of "compression to the neck." The fifth victim was found within an hour at the same location. None of the women were killed where their remains were discovered.

Friends of some of the women awaited the convoy of police vehicles at the court at 9.30am.

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