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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 February 2008, 14:37 GMT
Killer steeped in world of vice
By Sally Chidzoy
Home Affairs Correspondent, BBC Look East

Steve Wright
Steve Wright had a long history of using prostitutes
As Steve Wright begins a life sentence for murdering five women in Suffolk, one question may never be answered.

What drove a man to carry out such a campaign against prostitutes, systematically selecting and murdering them before dumping their bodies in isolated locations around Ipswich?

The killing spree, which only ended upon his arrest, brought fear to many women living in and around the town in the weeks before Christmas 2006.

While we may never know what motivated Wright to carry out the murders, it became clear during his trial at Ipswich Crown Court that he was no stranger to prostitution.

He regularly used sex workers in the red light district of Ipswich, bringing them to his home or having sex with them in his car.

TV appearance

His appetite for prostitutes took him from Thailand to the streets of Norwich and eventually Ipswich.

In the 1980s, Wright was working as a steward on the QE2 cruise liner when he was captured on film in Pattaya, Thailand in the BBC television documentary Whicker's World.

The television images show a young woman clasping her hands around Wright's neck and pulling him close for a kiss.

The victims, clockwise from top, Annette Nicholls, Anneli Alderton, Paula Clennell, Gemma Adams and Tania Nicol
Wright made no mention of his victims in his letters

Alan Whicker's commentary describes Pattaya as the new Havana "where every sailor dreams of coming to rest and relax".

On his return to the UK his taste for sex with prostitutes continued, and in the space of six weeks in winter 2006, when prostitutes began disappearing from the streets of Ipswich and their naked bodies began turning up, it was only a matter of time before police caught up with Wright.

Steve Gerald James Wright was born on 24 August 1958 at Erpingham, Norfolk, and was one of four children living at RAF West Beckham.

His father Conrad Wright was a military policeman married to his mother Patricia, before she walked out when Wright was eight. His father remarried and had two more children.

A member of the family told the BBC that in later life Wright, while appearing quiet and unassuming, harboured anger from his difficult, transient childhood and bitter resentment towards his real mother whom he did not see for 26 years.

Black wig

But his stepmother Val Wright said she did not recognise the negative side of Wright which has been reported.

She said: "I've known him 40 years, I've never seen him lose his temper.

"He didn't live with us for long but if he'd got a problem, he'd always come back to us."

And there were many problems. The twice-married, twice-divorced, father-of-two went from job to job.

In the late 1980s, he managed the Ferry Boat pub near the Norwich red light district and when he was not working he spent his time looking for prostitutes.

Steve Wright
Steve Wright had a long history of using prostitutes

Tracey Kennett, a former sex worker whom he once tried to pick up in Norwich, told the BBC Wright dressed in a black shoulder-length wig and she felt uneasy around him.

She said the wig did not bother her too much since many men who looked for prostitutes dressed as women to avoid arrest.

She put her wariness down to instinct and said the girls called him a "weirdo".

In 2001 he worked as a barman at the Brook Hotel in Felixstowe before being sacked for stealing hundreds of pounds from the till, for which he was ordered to carry out 100 hours community service.

It was a DNA sample taken at the time of that conviction which led to police matching samples taken from the dead women.

You get two girls for the price of one
Steve Wright, speaking of street prostitutes

At the time of the killings, Wright lived with his partner Pam, who took his surname, in London Road in Ipswich.

Wright would drive Ms Wright in his dark blue Ford Mondeo to her nightshift work before going to pick up prostitutes in Ipswich.

He told the court that he moved from using massage parlours to street prostitutes because they were cheaper: "You get two girls for the price of one."

Then, for some reason known only to Wright, he killed sex workers Tania Nicol, Gemma Adams, Annette Nicholls, Paula Clennell and Anneli Alderton.

During an electrifying encounter in court, prosecutor Peter Wright QC asked Wright about 12 "coincidences" - including the fact that he saw the prostitutes on the nights they vanished, in the order they vanished, and the compelling forensic evidence.

Each time he asked Wright: 'Is that a coincidence?' Twelve times Wright replied: "It would seem so, yes."

The murders sparked the biggest inquiry in the history of the Suffolk Police force, culminating in Wright's arrest on 19 December 2006.

In the words of the prosecution barrister opening his case against Wright in January 2008: "As to what drives a man to embark upon a campaign such as this we may never know but... in late October 2006 something caused Wright to engage in such a campaign."

Archive video of Steve Wright in Thai red light district

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