Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Ipswich Murders Trial - Days 9 and 10

It’s strange how the prosecution presents tons of rather detailed circumstantial evidence; there’s an odd lack of the narrative that court dramas on film and television have led us to expect.

Forgive me if I show in some detail what I mean:

On Monday, the prosecution started with CCTV evidence of the last sightings of victims Anneli Alderton and Tania Nicol followed by sightings of Annette Nichols and Gemma Adams.

Then we’re given evidence of Steve Wright’s work attendance, and that of his partner (not his wife) Pamela Wright. Pamela worked night shifts at a call centre, so was effectively out of the way when boyfriend Steve was cruising the red light area.

Then we’re given evidence from the neighbours and landlord that the Wrights had only moved into the flat on London Road in September. There’s some evidence of how Steve used to clean his car, a dark blue Ford Mondeo, regularly.

Then we go back to CCTV images in the company of car identification anorak Andrew Wooler. I suspect me and Andrew would hit it off quite well if we were ever introduced; he is described as “a vehicle identification expert from the Transport Research Federation.”

There follows some really rather boring evidence where Andrew describes how he came up with a shortlist of six cars to match the rather poor image in a piece of CCTV footage. There’s even a discussion of the relative positioning of the numberplate on the Saab 96 hatchback as opposed to Ford Mondeo MK III model. This is getting just a tad anoraky even for me. Slightly more relevant seems to be the positioning of the tax disk on the Mondeo, and the ‘christmas tree’ dangly that hangs from the interior mirror.

By ten past four it seems the judge (possibly not a car enthusiast) has had enough, or perhaps senses the jury has. The trial is adjourned to Tuesday.


The detail above might seem excessive, but it’s actually a pretty short précis of the detailed evidence the jury has heard. I doubt I’m the only one to feel rather confused by this mass of seemingly disconnected detail.


Tuesday morning and we’re back to witness statements beginning with neighbours reporting car washing frequency. Perhaps the only slight sinister piece of evidence comes from gardener Alfred Smith; he saw Steve Wright cleaning his car outside the flat at 7:30AM on a Saturday morning. It struck him as slightly unusual…

PC Ailsa Newman had some interesting evidence. She was with a colleague driving an unmarked police van in the red light area on Friday December 1st, which is after Gemma and Tania had disappeared. At 12:40AM they noticed a dark blue Ford Mondeo driving rather slowly and decided to investigate. At the wheel, alone, was the owner Steve Wright. He denied knowing he was in a red light district (new to the area, which was relatively true) and claimed he couldn’t sleep and was ‘out for a drive.’ The Police officers thought differently and warned him he’d be done for kerb crawling if caught again…

In by now typical prosecution way we moved on to evidence from the Police divers who searched (waded) the little stream below Burstall Bridge and eventually found Tania Nicoll’s body some distance downstream. This is an impressive piece of solid Police work, as there must be miles of river, stream and lake in the low lying East Anglian countryside around Ipswich. Presumably in the course of the enquiry they searched a great deal of cold stinky water.

The day finished with two surprises. First, that the Police had actually interviewed one of the victims, Paula Clennell in the course of the enquiry about the first victim Tania Nicol. It was a rather sad little portrayal of a typical professional relationship that exists between colleagues everywhere. Paula had her beat, Tania had hers, and they would occasionally share a cigarette and have a chat. Interestingly, her last sighting of Tania featured a client in a silver car, a Mercedes or an Audi.

The day finished with account of the actual arrest of Steve Wright, at 4:45AM on December 19th. Strangely, Wright appeared to be awake with the tele on, but showing no picture. They took him to Stowmarket Police Station. I remember that morning well, the end of the road opposite Wrights house was full of police and forensic investigators when all I wanted to do was drive to work.

The next day, and the day after, Wright was questioned for a grand total of 8 hours and 10 minutes. To each question he replied “No comment.”

Make of that what you will.



Blogger Als said...

Hi Roger,
i'm very interested in your blog. I'm writing a play for the National Theatre about how Ipswich responded to the murders and wondered I would be able to chat to you?

I'm very new to this posting on blogs and not sure I should be leaving my details up here for the world and his wife to see but would like to hear from you. Do you have an e mail address I could contact you on to explain more about my work and why it would be great to speak to you?

10:11 AM  
Blogger roGER said...

Sure, no worries.

My e-mail address is English_rog@Hotmail.com

Look forward to hearing from you.

- roGER

10:29 AM  

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