Belfast Telegraph

Home News

Her life was chaotic - her death, tragic

By Terry Kirby

Anneli Alderton:

The eyes are sunken and dark-rimmed. The face is haunted. The photograph of Anneli Alderton released by police conveys a great deal about the background of the tragic woman whose body was discovered on Sunday, the third of the five murder victims in Ipswich.

Like the other victims she frequently worked as a prostitute around Ipswich and, like the others, she appears to have led what police call a " chaotic lifestyle", with periods of drug and alcohol abuse, involvement in petty crime and without a settled home. One woman who knew her described her as "a bit of a mad one".

Ms Alderton, who was 24 and who had a five-year-old son called Freddy, appeared to live some of the time with her mother, Maire, and her mother's partner, Tim Smith, in Harwich, Essex. Her naked body was found in woodland at Nacton, on the outskirts of Ipswich.

Maire Alderton told The Guardian: "I have just come back from identifying her body and am just trying to hold things together, I am trying to grieve and look after her five-year-old son at the same time."

Some of the time Ms Alderton is believed to have stayed in Colchester, although she does not seem to have had a permanent address there. She was last seen on the evening of 3 December, at Harwich station, boarding a train for Colchester.

A neighbour in Harwich, Eileen Woodford, 63, said: "Anneli was a lovely-looking girl. She was extremely pretty and was always very neat and well-turned out. She was always very polite and would say hello." She said Ms Alderton's son was often at the house. "I can't believe he has lost his mum so close to Christmas. It is absolutely horrible."

Ms Alderton was remembered as an intelligent student at Copleston High School, gaining good grades in exams. But her behaviour became rebellious after the death of her father Roy, from lung cancer, when she was 16. Her step-sister Jane Lowe, 25, who lived with Ms Alderton for three years while they were both teenagers, said she had "got into the wrong crowd".

Ms Lowe told the Daily Mail: "When her dad died her world fell apart. She was very vulnerable. She was not a prostitute through choice. It was because she was hooked on drugs and it's an easy way to make money."

She said her step-sister was not worried about the dangers of prostitution and would have put up a fight against her killer.

In August, Ms Alderton was arrested in Colchester after a fight outside a public house, during which she attacked a police officer. She had also spent some time in drug rehabilitation.

Paula Clennell: 'It was the only way to fund her addiction'

By Maxine Frith

With chilling premonition, Paula Clennell told the television interviewer that she had become a "bit wary about getting into cars".

The 24-year-old, who is now believed to be one of the latest victims of the killing spree in Ipswich which has claimed at least five lives, had been interviewed by the media after the discovery of the body of Gemma Adams on 2 December.

Ms Adams' s body was the first of the sex workers to be discovered and the two women were apparently acquaintances.

Then, shortly after speaking to ITV News last week, the prostitute ­ and mother of three ­ went missing.

Yesterday, just hours before two more bodies were found, Ms Clennell's father, Brian, appealed to his daughter to get in touch.

Mr Clennell, who lives in Berwick, said he had not spoken to her for several years since he divorced her mother and had no idea that she was working in prostitution until she was reported missing.

Describing her as a "kind-hearted and loving soul", he said: " I was shocked when I found out. I can only think she has got in with the wrong crowd."

He added: "You do not have anything to worry about. You have a good mother and a loving sister and they just want you back. I'm hoping for the best, that she is with friends. I'm just hoping for the best."

But that hope appeared to fade yesterday afternoon.

Despite acknowledging in the interview before she went missing the danger that she faced, Ms Clennell said she would have to continue with street sex work in Ipswich because she "needed the money".

Ms Clennell said the police presence had led to a reduction in clients. She said she felt "sick" after hearing about the murder of Ms Adams. " It would be safer to get a flat and work from there, but it's getting a flat that's the problem."

Despite being beaten up on one occasion and having a couple of "nasty experiences", Ms Clennell said she had carried on working.

And after the interview, she walked back towards the red light district.

She has not been seen since the early hours of Sunday when she left a house in Ipswich on a bicycle. Later that day she phoned a friend saying she was looking for somewhere to stay.

The body of Anneli Alderton was found on the same day and, on Monday, Ms Clennell's family reported her missing following publicity about the murders.

Ms Clennell moved to East Anglia a decade ago following the separation of her parents, Brian and Isabella. At 16, she was publicly commended for helping a pensioner who fell and hurt herself, and her picture appeared in the local paper.

But within a year, her mother said, she had started using heroin. Within a few years she was addicted and working in prostitution to feed her habit.

Her father said she remained in touch with her sister, Alice, who has children of her own. She told her mother just months ago that she was terrified of being on the streets but wanted money to buy a house and fight for the return of her three daughters, who had been taken into care and adopted when social workers found she was addicted to heroin. Police said Ms Clennell appeared to have no permanent home and used several addresses.

Elton Norris, the father of Ms Clennell's three children, said: "I've always hated what she does for a living but it was the only way she could fund her addiction. Some weeks she would blow thousands of pounds on drugs."

Mr Clennell appealed to sex workers to help arrest the killer. He said yesterday: "This girl was given drugs, given them freely to get them hooked on drugs, which I believe is the truth and it is sad that they got on drugs and all I can appeal for is that anyone, any lady of the night ­ that's what I call them ­ come forward and please help arrest this sicko pervert."

He said he would search the streets of Ipswich for the killer who "may see [prostitutes] as evil because of what they do, but he is the evil one. My Paula is not evil. She is a sweet girl and she would not stand a chance against this brute."

Annette Nicholls: 'Overnight, she got into heroin and it changed her'

By Ian Herbert

Four years ago, Annette Nicholls seemed to be heading for a career of which she could feel justifiably proud.

She had completed a four-year beautician's course at Suffolk College in Ipswich and, as her many friends in the town attested yesterday, was set on a path towards her own business.

Annette was often to be found in her friends' homes, helping with make-up, offering advice and providing treatments to women who wanted a complexion and long brown hair like hers. It was some achievement for a young woman, then 25, who was bringing up a young son, Farron, single-handedly.

Then, virtually overnight, heroin had her in its grip. No one is quite sure how it started - some say that boyfriends were an influence - but her habit left her in dire need of money to maintain her supply. Within a few months she was plying her trade in Ipswich's red-light district.

Last night, it seemed that Annette had paid for this decision with her life, when police officers found two bodies in the Levington district in Ipswich.

If, as seems likely, she was attacked by the town's serial killer, she is unlikely to have stood a chance: the slight 29-year-old was just 5ft 3in. Though the body has not been formally identified detectives say they " fear the worst" for Annette.

Her cousin Tanya Nicholls, 37, is haunted by the thought that she did not do more to make Netty, as Annette was known, give up her risky work.

"She used to be such an absolutely outstanding person with the most lovely personality," Tanya said yesterday. "She was stunningly beautiful inside and out. I was so proud of her when she passed her course.

"But then almost overnight she got into heroin and it changed her. It was a bit like flicking a light switch."

Many friends say that it was not in Annette's character to take risks with her personal safety. She was regarded as someone who was extremely organised. Her house was immaculate, and her car was always taxed and insured.

Some chart her life's descent into chaos from the day after she left her small, semi-detached council house on Ipswich's Greenwich estate, where she raised Farron - who is now eight - during his pre-school years.

Annette had evidently been encouraged by the council to move into a bigger, housing association home on the smart new Ravenwood estate nearby. The move coincided with Annette asking her mother, Rosemary (who is known locally as Kim), to play a more substantial role in caring for Farron. Her mother, with whom friends say Annette was once extremely close, readily agreed.

Her cousin saw her about three weeks ago, touting for business for kerb-crawlers in West End Road on the edge of the red-light area - yards from the place where one murder victim, Gemma Adams, was last seen alive on 15 November.

"She saw me riding past on a bike at around midnight and called me over to say, 'Hello'," Tanya said. "I was really worried for her because it was after the two other girls, Gemma and Tania, had been reported missing.

"But she didn't want to stop working. She just told me she was OK. The only other thing she said was, 'Don't tell anyone that you saw me here'. Now I just wish that I had picked her up and dragged her home."

Annette was understood to have been staying with a man in Ipswich when she failed to return to his house after going out to sell sex. Detectives say she was last seen at 9.50pm on Tuesday last week in Norwich Road, Ipswich, near the town's red-light area. She was reported missing by her family on Monday after they became worried about the murders.

After last night's discovery, Annette's mother was being comforted at her home in Ipswich and was too upset to comment.

Tanya said: "I don't know if she knew about Annette's prostitution. The pair of them used to be ever so close before she went off the rails, but she would never have approved of her being a prostitute."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph