Man, 48, charged with murder of five women

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The Independent Online

Stephen Wright, a forklift driver from Ipswich, has been charged with murdering five women who were working as prostitutes and whose naked bodies had been found within 10 miles of the town earlier this month.

Mr Wright, 48, a former steward on the QE2, has been questioned by police since he was arrested in the early hours of Tuesday morning at his home on London Road.

He will appear at Ipswich Magistrates' court this morning charged with the murder of Gemma Adams, 25; Anneli Alderton, 24; Tania Nicol, 19; Paula Clennell, 24, and Annette Nicholls, 29.

Tom Stephens, the 37-year-old supermarker worker who was the first man arrested on suspicion of murder, was last night released without charge on police bail.

Investigators have been undertaking a meticulous search of Mr Wright's two-bedroomed flat, which is within an Edwardian conversion, and is situated on one of the roads bordering the red light district. They have also seized his car.

Detective Chief Superintendent Stewart Gull said last night: "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 St Martin.

"The next day, Tuesday 19 December, a second suspect was arrested in Ipswich. There have been significant inquiries and interviews during the period that these men have been in custody.

"As a result of these inquiries, the 37-year-old man from Trimley has been released on police bail pending further inquiries. The second man, Stephen Wright from Ipswich, has been charged with the murder of all five women."

Mr Wright's girlfriend of five years, Pamela Wright, 48, who moved to the flat with him three months ago, has protested his innocence since he was arrested.

Acquaintances have described Mr Wright as a golf fanatic and a shy man, although some press reports this week have carried information about his alleged penchant for cross-dressing.

Mr Stephens, a Tesco worker and former special constable arrested on Monday morning, had aroused police suspicion following an interview he gave to the Sunday Mirror. He said in the interview that he had already been questioned by police four times but said he was not worried about being charged as he was innocent.

The bodies of the five women had all been found in rural settings between 2 December and 12 December. Some had been dumped in water and all were found naked save for their jewellery.

Michael Crimp, senior prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service in Suffolk, said yesterday: "We have been working with officers from Suffolk Constabulary for the past eight days advising on a number of preliminary legal issues before and after arrest.

"This evening, we have made the decision that there is sufficient evidence and authorised that Stephen Wright, born on 24 April 1958, of London Road, Ipswich, should be charged with the murders. We will continue to keep this case under constant review as it develops."

Mr Wright, was born in Erpingham in Norfolk and spent his early years at RAF Beckham where his father, Conrad, was a corporal. The family moved to Felixstowe, Suffolk, in the early 1980s, when his father took a job as a docks policeman.

Mr Wright is divorced from his first wife Angela, with whom he is believed to have three children, all of whom are now grown up.

Later, Mr Wright returned to Norfolk and ran a pub in Norwich with his second wife Diane, whom he married in 1987. The pair have since divorced and she has now remarried.

Mr Wright's most recent work was as a forklift truck driver on the Felixstowe docks, while his current girlfriend Pamela is understood to work nights at a call centre in the town.

The investigation began on 30 October when Tania Nicol, the youngest victim, disappeared.

The case so far

October 30: Tania Nicol last seen on CCTV on London Road

November 7: Police become concerned about Ms Nicol

November 15: Gemma Adams last seen in West End road

December 2: Gemma Adams' body found in a brook in Hintlesham

December 3: The last known sighting of Anneli Alderton at Manningtree train station

December 5: Annette Nicholls is last seen on Norwich Road.

December 8: Tania Nichol's body found by divers at Copdock Mill

December 10: Police say there are "striking similarities" in the killings. Anneli Alderton's body is found in Nacton.

December 11: Concern for two other prostitutes, Paula Clennell and Annette Nicholls

December 12: The bodies of Annette Nicholls and Paula Clennell found in Levington

December 18: Tom Stephens, 37, arrested on suspicion of all five murders

December 19: Steve Wright, 48, arrested on suspicion of five murders

December 21: Police charge Steve Wright and release Tom Stephens