A forklift truck driver accused of murdering five women in eastern England in a case that has gripped Britain will go on trial next year after he denied the charges in court on Tuesday.
Steve Wright, 49, was arrested following one of the nation's biggest manhunts after five prostitutes were murdered in the space of 11 days in December last year.
The naked bodies of Gemma Adams, Tania Nicol, Anneli Alderton, Paula Clennell and Annette Nicholls were found dumped at rural locations around the town of Ipswich.
In a hearing at Ipswich Crown Court, Wright was asked how he pleaded to the charge of murder in the case of each of the five women. He replied each time in a clear firm voice: "Not guilty".
The judge said the case would continue to be heard in Ipswich. The trial is scheduled to start on Jan. 14 next year and is due to last up to eight weeks.
Wright is being held at Belmarsh high security prison in east London.
Detectives launched their murder investigation on Dec. 2 when 25-year-old Adams' body was found in a stream. The body of 19-year-old Nicol — last seen on Oct. 30 and the first to be reported missing — was discovered in the same stream on Dec. 8.
The other three bodies were found over the next four days amid a media frenzy.
The local police chief said the murders of five separate women in such a short span of time was unprecedented in British criminal history.