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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 January 2008, 17:11 GMT
Jury hears dead woman's evidence
Paula Clennell
Paula Clennell's statement told of her last sighting of Tania Nicol
Evidence from one of five women found murdered in Ipswich has been heard at the trial of the man accused of killing her and four others.

Jurors heard a statement which Paula Clennell, 24, gave to police after the disappearance of Tania Nicol, 19 - a month before her own body was found.

She last saw Miss Nicol on 31 October 2006, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

The court earlier heard how 49-year-old Steve Wright, who denies murder, was unsteady on his feet when arrested.

Miss Clennell, Miss Nicol, Anneli Alderton, 24, Gemma Adams, 25, and 29-year-old Annette Nicholls all disappeared while working as prostitutes on the streets of Ipswich.

'Nice eyes'

Their naked bodies were found over a period of 10 days in December 2006, dumped in isolated locations around the town.

A police inquiry was launched following the disappearance of Miss Nicol at the end of October 2006.

On 13 November 2006, Miss Clennell spoke to investigating officers and told them how she regularly stood near Miss Nicol as they waited to pick up clients in Ipswich's red light district.

Steve Wright

The jury heard how Miss Clennell had stated Miss Nicol had got into a silver estate car, possibly an Audi or a Mercedes, at about 0100 GMT on 31 October.

A lawyer read out the statement in which Miss Clennell said: "Tania was standing in her usual place. I assumed the passenger window was wound down as Tania got into the car. She looked over to me."

She added that the car then drove away, driven by a white man in his mid-forties with "nice eyes".

"I didn't see Tania any more. That is the last time I saw her," her statement read.

Four days later, Miss Clennell gave a second statement to police in which she confirmed that it had definitely been Miss Nicol she had seen getting into the silver car on 31 October.

The court heard how she had described Miss Nicol as "not the kind of person who would build up a debt from drugs" but regularly took heroin and crack cocaine.

Collected from home

She told police she only knew Ms Nicol through work and occasionally shared a "cigarette and a chat".

"She didn't speak to me about anyone bothering her. I have known her for a year," she added.

In her statement Miss Clennell said Miss Nicol was regularly picked up near her home by a man called Tom, whose surname she did not know, who drove her to work and collected her afterwards.

She added she thought Miss Nicol gave Tom money for petrol.

Miss Clennell disappeared on 10 December. Her body was found near woodland at Levington on 12 December.

Post-mortem examinations suggested that all five women were strangled or asphyxiated, the prosecution has said.

'Eyes closed'

Simon Spence, prosecuting, had earlier told the court how Steve Wright, who is from Ipswich, was "unsteady on his feet" when he was arrested on suspicion of the five murders.

Police officers had gone to his home on 19 December 2006 at about 0445 GMT where they found him with a light on in his front room and peering through the curtains as police approached.

"He was cautioned and made no reply," Mr Spence said.

"Thereafter, he became unsteady on his feet and said 'may I please sit down or I'll fall'.

"He was taken to Stowmarket Police Station. En route it was noted he was sweating and often had his eyes closed."

He was examined by a doctor on his arrival before being questioned.

"He answered 'no comment' to all questions asked of him," Mr Spence added.

Jurors were shown items of Mr Wright's clothing taken from his home and car including a reflective jacket, a checked lumberjacket and a pair of work gloves.

The trial continues.

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