Man remanded over Suffolk murders

A former Norwich pub landlord showed no emotion as he appeared in court for the murder of all five Ipswich prostitutes. Stephen Wright, 48, who used to run the Ferry Boat pub in Norwich, has been charged with the murders of Gemma Adams, Tania Nicol, Anneli Alderton, Paula Clennell, and Annette Nicholls.

A former Norwich pub landlord showed no emotion as he appeared in court today for the murder of all five Ipswich prostitutes.

Stephen Wright, 48, who used to run the Ferry Boat pub in Norwich, was charged last night with the murders of Gemma Adams, 25, Tania Nicol, 19, Anneli Alderton, 24, Paula Clennell, 24, and Annette Nicholls, 29.

He sat impassively looking at the magistrates' bench during today's five-minute court hearing at Ipswich Magistrates Court.

Wright, a forklift truck driver of London Road, Ipswich, was arrested at his home at about 5am on Tuesday.

A small crowd of onlookers gathered to watch Wright arrive in a police van escorted by police cars and motorcycle outriders.

Outside the court there was a heavy police presence and roads were lined with crash barriers.

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Dressed in a dark blue suit, white shirt and blue striped tie, he appeared in the dock flanked by two police officers - with a third policeman standing to his left in the main court.

He spoke just three times to say “yes” when the clerk checked his name, address and date of birth.

Robert Sadd, prosecuting, gave a brief outline of the case to magistrates Peter West, Renu Mandal and Mark Shackell.

Mr Osler, for Wright, told the court that he was not making any application for bail.

The court clerk outlined the murder charges and told the magistrates that the killings were alleged to have taken place between various dates in early December.

She listed the names of the prostitutes and said Wright was accused of the murder of each one.

Mr West, who chaired the panel of magistrates, told Wright that he was being remanded in custody until 10.30am on January 2.

Mr West told Wright that the next court appearance would be at Ipswich Crown Court.

Around 60 journalists were packed into the courtroom for the hearing.

The father-of-three was born in 1958 in Erpingham, near Aylsham, and brought up at RAF Beckham, near Sheringham, where his father Corporal Conrad Wright lived with his wife Patricia.

Valerie Wright, Steve Wright's step-mum, who lives in Felixstowe, told the Evening News this morning: “We are just absolutely devastated but I'm not prepared to say any more than that at this stage.”

The other man arrested in connection with the murders, former Norwich special constable Tom Stephens, 37, has been released on police bail.

Wright was arrested 24 hours after Mr Stephens a former Thorpe St Andrew High School pupil and special constable for Norfolk Constabulary, was arrested at his home in Trimley, near Felixtowe on suspicion of the murders.

Mr Stephens has been questioned for almost four days in connection with the killings but was last night released without charge pending further inquiries.

His arrest came after he gave media interviews admitting he knew all of the girls and was the nearest thing Miss Nicol had to a boyfriend but he maintained he had nothing to do with the killings.

The news was announced by Detective Chief Superintendent Stewart Gull, who has headed the investigation, at a media conference at Suffolk police headquarters in Martlesham last night.

He said: “You will be aware that on Monday December 18 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. The next day, Tuesday December 19, a second suspect was arrested in Ipswich.

“There have been significant ongoing 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 was released on police bail pending further inquiries. Police will not name this man at this stage.

“The second man, Steven Wright from Ipswich, has been charged with the murder of all five women - Gemma Adams, Tania Nicol, Anneli Alderton, Paula Clennell and Annette Nicholls.”

The Crown Prosecution Service's senior prosecutor Michael Crimp, who was also at the media conference, said a team of

CPS lawyers had been in close contact with detectives since the arrests were made earlier this week.

He said: “As this case has developed, we have been carefully examining and assessing the evidence

“This evening we have made the decision that there is sufficient evidence and authorised that Steven Wright... should be charged with murder.”

Detectives launched an inquiry after Miss Nicol vanished on October 30, her body was found at Copdock Mill on December 8. Miss Adams disappeared two weeks later on November 15, her body was the first to be found at Hintlesham on December 2.

The discovery of Miss Adams body triggered a murder hunt which led to the discovery of four more bodies in just a 10-day period. The body of three-months pregnant Miss Alderton was found at Nacton on December 10 and the bodies of Miss Clennell and Miss Nicholls were discovered at Levington on Decmeber 12.

The cause of death was only established in two of the cases, post mortems revealed Miss Alderton had been strangled and Miss Clennell had died as a result of compression to the neck. All five bodies were naked.

Inquests into the deaths of all five women have been opened and adjourned.

If you have a crime story contact Peter Walsh on 01603 722469 or email him at peter.walsh@archant.co.uk .

For more on the court appearance of Stephen Wright and news on this story as it breaks go to www.eveningnews24.co.uk