Wright guilty of murdering five prostitutes

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The Independent Online

Steve Wright should spend the rest of his life in prison for murdering five Ipswich prostitutes, prosecutors said today. Jurors accepted that he "systematically selected and murdered" the women over a six-and-a-half week period.

Wright, was found guilty today of murdering Gemma Adams, 25, Tania Nicol, 19, Anneli Alderton 24, Paula Clennell, 24, and Annette Nicholls, 29.

After the jury returned its verdicts, prosecutor Peter Wright QC urged the judge to give Wright a whole life sentence.

The prosecutor argued that the criteria for passing such a sentence were met because there was "a substantial degree of premeditation or planning" behind the killings and also because of their sexual nature.

Judge Mr Justice Gross indicated that his only alternative in sentencing would be to start on the basis of a life sentence with a minimum 30-year term.

Dressed in the dark suit, white shirt and pale blue tie he's worn throughout his trial, Wright stood emotionless as the jury foreman read out five guilty verdicts against him.

Flanked by security guards in the dock of Court No 1 at Ipswich Crown Court, Wright looked forward as the jury returned its guilty verdicts.

As each one was read out, cries of "yes" were heard coming from the public gallery, where the families of three of the dead women had gathered.

Members of Paula Clennell's, Annette Nicholls' and Tania Nicol's families clenched their hands together as they listened to the verdicts being read out.

Miss Nicholls' mother Kim sobbed, while the sister and mother of Miss Clennell also broke down.

The naked bodies of the five women were found in isolated spots around Ipswich over a 10-day period in December 2006. The six-week trial heard that two of the bodies were arranged with their arms outstretched in a crucifix pose.

Forensic analysis revealed Wright's DNA on three of the women and fibres linking him to all five, the jury was told.

Wright admitted frequenting prostitutes in Ipswich and having sex with four of the victims, though he insisted he did not kill them.

But the jurors accepted the prosecution case that he "systematically selected and murdered" the women over a six-and-a-half-week period.

The court heard that Wright stalked the red-light district near his home while his partner Pam Wright, 59, was working nights at a call centre.

As lawyers discussed how long he should spend behind bars, Wright sat in his chair in the dock with his head down looking at the ground. There was no sign of any emotion.

As he was led away by prison officers, many of the victims' families in the court craned their necks to get a glimpse of him.

A wall with a partially-frosted glass window separated the public gallery from the dock.

Wright, who did not look up as the jury of nine men and three women left the room, avoided any eye contact as he was ushered out.

His brother David, who is in his 50s, also sat in the public gallery with his wife.

Following the verdicts, a family member of one of the victims leant over to him and said "sorry" as Mr Wright sobbed.

The relatives left court hand in hand, just as they were when they entered.

The jury took just eight hours to convict Wright unanimously on all counts.

Wright showed no emotion as the verdicts were read out, staring forward as he stood in the dock and avoiding eye contact with the jurors and family members in the court.

There were shouts of "Yes" and sobs from relatives of the women sitting in the public gallery as the verdicts were returned.