Forensic search for clues

Forensics experts were yesterday combing the home of the man arrested on suspicion of the five Suffolk murders in the hope of finding vital clues which could lead to his conviction.

Forensics experts were yesterday combing the home of the man arrested on suspicion of the five Suffolk murders in the hope of finding vital clues which could lead to his conviction.

Specialists wearing distinctive white suits spent several hours at Tom Stephens' home in Jubilee Close, Trimley, near Felixstowe, while other teams were dispatched to his mother's home in Eye and to revisit the crime scenes at Nacton, Copdock and Levington where the bodies were found.

The EDP also understands metal detector operators visited Stephens' home when Gemma Adams - the first woman to go missing from Ipswich's red light district - disappeared.

Until now DNA evidence has been thin on the ground. Officers earlier described the killer as "forensically aware" and it was suggested the suspected may even have inside knowledge of police operations.

The bodies of Miss Adams and Tania Nicol were both discovered naked and in water, destroying all but the smallest traces of DNA. The final three bodies - those of Anneli Alderton, Paula Clennell and Annette Nicholls - were all stripped of personal belongings. Items of clothing which may have belonged to the girls have been recovered and are still being examined.

Neighbours in Trimley spoke of a police operation to monitor Stephens in recent weeks. The force helicopter had been seen hovering over his flat in a brick house at the end of a cul-de-sac in recent weeks.

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Plasterer Paul Bridges, 37, lived near Mr Stephens in Ipswich. "He was one of those blokes who was very much a keep-fit fanatic," said Mr Bridges. "I used to see him out running a lot and on his bike.

"The marriage seemed to end very suddenly. All of a sudden he was gone. I last saw him about two years ago."

His ex-wife Judith was not at her home in Ipswich.