Murder victims 'picked up by defendant'

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The Independent Online

The man accused of murdering five women in Ipswich in 2006 has admitted in court that he may have been with them on the nights they were killed but he maintained that he was an "unfortunate" victim of dozens of coincidences.

Steve Wright, 49, remained outwardly calm yesterday in the face of forensic evidence linking him to the bodies of all of the women, who worked in the city as prostitutes. He admits to having picked up all five murdered women and to having had sex with four of them. He also claims he intended to have sex with the fifth but changed his mind.

Jurors heard that the forklift truck driver's DNA was found on three of the women's bodies, blood from two of the women was found on one of his coats and fibres from either his home or car were found on all five.

But Mr Wright denies murdering Gemma Adams, 25; Tania Nicol, 19; Anneli Alderton, 24; Paula Clennell, 24 and Annette Nicholls, 29. The naked bodies of the women were found in remote locations near Ipswich between 2 December and 12 December 2006.

Giving evidence for four hours at Ipswich Crown Court, Mr Wright admitted picking up all five women, beginning with Ms Nichol.

Mr Wright was shown CCTV images of Ms Nicol stepping into a dark Ford Mondeo – the model of his car – shortly after 11pm on 30 October. Asked by the defence counsel, Timothy Langdale, QC, if it was him in the images, Mr Wright replied: "Quite possibly, yes."

At one point the Peter Wright QC, for the prosecution, listed 12 specific points relating to Mr Wright having been with the women on the nights they disappeared, to him having picked them up in the order they disappeared, and to forensic evidence being found either at his home or on the women's bodies.

Twelve times the defendant was asked: "Is that a coincidence?" Each time, Mr Wright gave the same reply, "it would seem so, yes".

Altogether in his evidence, MrWright replied "it would seem so, yes", or "it would appear so, yes" or "if you say so, yes", a total of 50 times. At one point, the prosecutor suggested: "It would seem that in terms of picking up prostitutes in Ipswich you have been singularly unfortunate."

Again Mr Wright replied: "It would seem so, yes."

The court heard that Mr Wright moved into a flat within the Ipswich red-light district on 1 October 2006. He said that he began noticing prostitutes a fortnight later and started to pick them up in the third week of October of that year.

Jurors were told that Mr Wright's car was twice filmed by security cameras on the night Ms Alderton disappeared – once in the red light area at 11.18pm on 3 December and again at 1.41am on 4 December heading out of Ipswich. Asked why he had been driving around at this time, Mr Wright claimed that he had had difficulty sleeping.

The court also heard that Ms Nichol's blood was found on Mr Wright's yellow reflective jacket. Mr Wright said he could not explain how it had got there.

But when it emerged that Ms Clennell's blood had also been found on the jacket, Mr Wright claimed thatshe had mentioned biting her tongue while lying on his sofa. Mr Wright said that he had used the jacket as a blanket on the floor of his bedroom where he had taken the women, after spending time in his car.

On Thursday Mr Wright told the court that he had used prostitutes when he had "the urge" to for years, including when he worked in the pub trade in London. "It was a situation I got myself in," he said.

The prosecution alleged that eventually Mr Wright was seeking "something more than sexual gratification ... and as time went on you decided you would kill." "No, no way," replied the defendant. Coming to the end of the cross-examination, the prosecution accused Mr Wright of "squeezing the very life out of" Ms Nicol".

"No I did not," Mr Wright said.

The case continues.