The bleak streets where desperate victims make easy targets

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The Independent Online

The streets of the red-light district in Ipswich form a suitably bleak backdrop to the desperate transactions that take place there at night.

In the rain and cold yesterday evening, Sir Alf Ramsey Way, Constantine Road and Russell Road were eerily empty. Overshadowed by the bulk of the town's football club stadium, Portman Road, this industrial area is a collection of mundane, featureless roads - drab by day, and, women and clients aside, deserted at night.

After council workers drive out of the multi-storey car park, the prostitutes turn up to walk the empty streets, waiting for a kerb crawler to emerge. They meander through the playground on a small green, colourful in the sun but spooky under the shadows of harsh, orange street lights. Locals have objected to the condoms and detritus left behind. Community drugs teams have tried to convince the sex workers to seek help. But still, they return, unwilling or unable to earn money any other way. It was from these streets that five young women plied their trade, swapped stories and tried in vain to keep an eye out for each other. It was here - it would appear - that their killer or killers coaxed them to their deaths.

After the first two bodies were discovered, they defied the killer as they had defied the local community and drugs teams before. They had little choice but to play Russian roulette with their lives, they insisted. Despite their fears that it was "a regular punter'' preying on them, one by one, drug addiction drove them back to their patch, they explained.

But last night they were staying away. It remains to be seen how long terror will triumph over addiction.