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Steven Gerald James WRIGHT

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 


A.K.A.: "The Suffolk Strangler"
 
Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Wright's motivations for the murders have never been revealed. In the interviews carried out after he was charged, Wright answered no comment to every question he was asked
Number of victims: 5
Date of murders: October-December 2006
Date of arrest: December 19, 2006
Date of birth: April 24, 1958
Victims profile: Tania Nicol, 19 / Gemma Adams, 25 / Anneli Alderton, 24 / Annette Nicholls, 29 / Paula Clennell, 24 (prostitutes)
Method of murder: Asphyxiation / Strangulation
Location: Ipswich, Suffolk, England, United Kingdom
Status: Sentenced to life imprisonment, with the trial judge recommending that he should never be released from prison, on February 22, 2008
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Steven Gerald James Wright is a British serial murderer.

He was born in the Norfolk village of Erpingham in April 1958. One of four children, including one brother, of a military policeman and a veterinary nurse. While Wright's father was on military service, the family had lived in both Malta and Singapore. Wright's parents split during the 1960s and both later remarried. Wright lived with his father, who fathered two more children with his second wife.

Steve Wright left school in 1974 and soon afterwards he joined the Merchant Navy, becoming a chef on ferries sailing from Felixstowe, Suffolk. In 1979, he married and had a son called Michael who was born in 1983. The couple separated in 1987 and Wright later became a steward on the QE2, a lorry driver, a barman, and just prior to his arrest, a fork-lift truck driver.

Former prostitute Lindi St Clair has claimed that she was attacked by Steve Wright in the 1980s. His second marriage lasted less than one year whilst he was a pub landlord in Norwich.  He became a father again with another partner in 1992, whilst managing a public house in South London. This post was lost due to his gambling and drinking behaviour.

It is known that throughout these times Wright built up large debts largely through gambling, and has recently been declared bankrupt. Wright had twice tried to commit suicide firstly by carbon monoxide poisoning and then, in 2000, by an overdose of pills.

Wright met his last partner Pamela Wright (the shared surname is a coincidence) in 2001 in Felixstowe, and they moved to the house in Ipswich together in 2004. Wright had always admitted that he had used prostitutes, firstly whilst in the Merchant Navy, and continuously throughout his life. In Ipswich he admitted he went to certain massage and sauna establishments that were actually brothels.

Throughout his trial he had stated that he had used prostitutes on many occasions, including three of the victims, and when his partner began working night shifts their sex life became almost non-existent; so he returned to prostitutes who were based on the nearby streets, procuring a dozen in the final three months of 2006.

Wright was found guilty of all five murders on 21 February 2008. On the following day, 22 February, he was sentenced to life imprisonment and the judge recommended that life must mean life.

 
 

Steven Gerald James Wright (born 24 April 1958) is an English serial killer, also known as the Suffolk Strangler. He is currently serving life imprisonment for the murder of five women who worked as prostitutes in Ipswich, Suffolk. The killings took place during late 2006 and Wright was found guilty in February 2008.

Early life

Wright was born in the Norfolk village of Erpingham, the second of four children of military policeman Conrad and veterinary nurse Patricia. He has an older brother David and two younger sisters, Jeanette and Tina. While Wright's father was on military service, the family had lived in both Malta and Singapore.

Wright's mother left in 1964 when he was 8; his father divorced his mother in 1977; both later remarried. Wright and his siblings, he was annoying and he lived with their father, who fathered a son, Keith and daughter, Natalie with his second wife, Valerie.

Wright left school in 1974 and soon afterwards joined the Merchant Navy, becoming a chef on ferries sailing from Felixstowe, Suffolk. In 1978 in Milford Haven, he married Angela O'Donovan. They had a son, Michael. The couple separated in 1987 and later divorced. Wright became a steward on the QE2, a lorry driver, a barman and just prior to his arrest, a forklift truck driver. Former prostitute Lindi St Clair said she was attacked by Steve Wright in the 1980s.

His second marriage was to 32 year old Diane Cassell at Braintree register office in August 1987 They split in July 1988 while he was a pub landlord in Norwich. He was in a relationship with Sarah Whiteley from 19891993 and they had a daughter together, born in 1992. It was during this time that he also managed a public house in South London. This post was lost due to his gambling and heavy drinking. He was convicted in 2001 of theft, stealing 80 to pay off his debts. This was his only criminal conviction prior to the murders. It is known that throughout these times Wright built up large debts largely through gambling, and had recently been declared bankrupt.

Wright had twice tried to commit suicide, first by carbon monoxide poisoning in his car in the mid-1990s; secondly in 2000, by an overdose of pills. A Thai woman, Somchit Chomphusaeng, says she married Wright in Thailand in 1999.

The Suffolk murders

Wright met Pamela Wright (the shared surname is a coincidence) in 2001 in Felixstowe and they moved to the house in Ipswich together in 2004. Wright had always admitted that he had used prostitutes and had done since he was in the Merchant Navy, and continually throughout his life. In Ipswich he admitted he went to certain massage and sauna establishments that were actually brothels. Throughout his trial he had stated that he had used prostitutes on many occasions, including three of the victims and when his partner began working night shifts their sex life became almost non-existent; he returned to prostitutes who were based on the nearby streets, procuring a dozen in the final three months of 2006.

Wright was found guilty of all five murders on 21 February 2008. On the following day, he was sentenced to life imprisonment and the judge recommended that he should never be released.

Wright's motivations for the murders have never been revealed. In the interviews carried out after he was charged, Wright answered no comment to every question he was asked.

It was announced on 19 March 2008 that Wright would be appealing against his convictions. However, on 2 February 2009, it was announced that Wright had decided to drop this appeal case.

Possible links to other crimes

Wright is still being investigated in connection with other murders and disappearances, including the Suzy Lamplugh case; he had worked with Lamplugh on the QE2 ocean liner during the early 1980s. Lamplugh was last seen alive in 1986 and was legally declared dead in 1994, but her body has never been found. However, the Metropolitan Police have stated that this is not a strong line of enquiry.

Cleveland Police have not ruled out a link between Wright and the murder of Vicky Glass, a heroin addict who vanished from Middlesbrough in September 2000. Her naked body was later found in a stream on the North Yorks Moors.

Wikipedia.org

 
 

The Ipswich 2006 serial murders began during December 2006 when the bodies of five murdered women were discovered at different locations near Ipswich in Suffolk, England. All the victims were prostitutes or sex workers working around the Ipswich area. Suffolk Police linked the killings in their murder investigation.

A forklift truck driver, Steve Gerald James Wright, then aged 48, was arrested on suspicion of murder on Tuesday 19 December, 2006 and charged with the murders of all five women on Thursday 21 December, 2006. The trial began on January 14, 2008. Wright pleaded not guilty to the charges.

He was found guilty of all five murders on 21 February, 2008 and was sentenced the following day to life imprisonment with a recommendation that life should mean life, meaning that he will probably never be released from prison.

Victims

The body of a young woman was discovered in the water of Belstead Brook at Thorpe's Hill, near Hintlesham, by a member of the public on December 2, 2006. She was later identified as 25-year-old Gemma Adams and had not been sexually assaulted.

Six days later, on 8 December, the body of 19-year-old Tania Nicol, a friend of Adams, who had been missing since 30 October, was discovered in water at Copdock Mill just outside Ipswich. There was no evidence of sexual assault.

On 10 December, a third victim was found by a member of the public in an area of woodland by the A14 road near Nacton and later identified as 24-year-old Anneli Alderton. According to a police statement, she had been asphyxiated and was around three-months-pregnant when she died.

On 12 December, Suffolk police announced that the bodies of two more women had been found. On 14 December, the police confirmed one of the bodies as 24-year-old Paula Clennell. Clennell had disappeared on 10 December and was last seen in Ipswich. According to Suffolk Police, Clennell died from "compression of the throat".

On 15 December, the police confirmed that the other body was that of 29-year-old Annette Nicholls, who disappeared on 5 December. The bodies of Clennell and Nicholls were found in Nacton near the Levington turn-off of the A1156, close to where Alderton was found. A member of the public had seen one of the bodies six metres from the main road and police discovered a second body by helicopter whilst conducting initial investigations.

  • Gemma Adams, aged 25, born in Kesgrave and living in Ipswich, disappeared on 15 November at about 01.15 (UTC). Her body was found on 2 December, in a river at Hintlesham; she was the first of the victims to be found. Adams was found naked, in a brook, but had not been sexually assaulted. As a child, Adams had been a popular girl among friends and her affluent family, but as a teenager she started smoking cannabis and eventually started taking harder drugs, becoming addicted to heroin. She had been working as a prostitute to cover the cost of her drug addiction, which had already led to her being dismissed from her job with an insurance firm.
     

  • Tania Nicol, aged 19, from Ipswich, disappeared on 30 October and was reported missing on 1 November. Nicol was found 8 December near Copdock Mill in a river; there was no evidence of sexual assault. She was the first of the victims to be reported missing and the second body to be found. Nicol, the youngest of the five victims, had been working as a prostitute to fund her addiction to heroin and cocaine.
     

  • Annette Nicholls, aged 29, a mother of one from Ipswich, disappeared on 5 December at 21.50. Nicholls' body was found on 12 December near Levington, naked but not sexually assaulted. Her body was one of those posed in the cruciform position. Nicholls, the oldest victim, had been a drug addict since the early 2000's, when she was completing a beautician's course at Suffolk College. Soon afterwards, she had started working as a prostitute to fund her addiction.
     

  • Anneli Alderton, aged 24, a mother of one who was in the early stages of pregnancy, had been living at a temporary address in Colchester, Essex. Alderton disappeared on 3 December and was last seen on the 17.53 train from Harwich to Manningtree. Alderton got off the train at Manningtree at 18.15 before going on to Ipswich via another train, arriving at 18.43. Alderton's body was found on 10 December near Nacton, in woodland in front of Amberfield School. Alderton had been asphyxiated and was found naked, and also posed in the cruciform position, Alderton had been addicted to drugs since shortly after her father's death from lung cancer in 1998.
     

  • Paula Clennell, aged 24, mother of three children, born in Northumberland and living in Ipswich, disappeared on 10 December in Ipswich at approximately 00.20. Clennell's body was found on 12 December near Levington on the same day as Nicholls'. Clennell was found naked but not sexually assaulted and a post mortem reported that she had been killed by a compression of her throat. Prior to her death Clennell commented on the then recent murders in an interview with Anglia News, stating that despite them making her "a bit wary about getting into cars" she continued to work as "I need the money." Clennell's three children had all been taken into care due to her drug addiction. Clennell herself had spent some of her childhood in a referral unit, and it was shortly after being placed there that she started taking drugs.

Police investigation

Suffolk police linked the killings and launched a murder investigation, codenamed Operation Sumac. At a 10 December press conference, detectives from the Suffolk Constabulary issued a warning to all women in Ipswich not to work on the streets, and said they had received offers of assistance from neighbouring police forces, particularly Norfolk, in their "hunt for the killer or killers".

Chief Constable Alastair McWhirter acknowledged that Suffolk Constabulary would be reliant on external assistance due to the magnitude of the investigation. A senior investigator with the Metropolitan Police, Commander Dave Johnston, was reported to have been drafted into the murder inquiry team from Scotland Yard in London in an advisory capacity. The day-to-day investigation was conducted by Detective Chief Superintendent Stewart Gull.

During the 13 and 14 December press conferences, DCS (Detective Chief Superintendent) Gull revealed that police believed the locations where the five bodies were found to have been 'deposition sites' not murder scenes, indicating that the victims were all killed elsewhere and transported to the locations where they were later found. However, DCS Gull was unable to indicate where the women had been murdered, or whether the crimes took place at a single location or at multiple sites. DCS Gull also revealed that some items of women's clothing and accessories, including a handbag and jacket, had been recovered and were being forensically tested to establish whether they belonged to any of the murdered women.

During the course of the press briefings, DCS Gull stated that over 200 police officers were involved in the investigation, and some 400-450 calls were being received daily by detectives.

On 15 December, Suffolk Constabulary's website revealed that a total of 7,300 telephone calls had been made to police regarding the investigation, and that over 250 police staff were working on the cases, with support from at least 26 other police forces. As of 18 December, the number of officers involved in the investigation had increased to 500 and a further 350 officers from 30 other police forces had assisted in the inquiry, which involved detectives trawling through 10,000 hours of CCTV footage. The number of calls received regarding the case had also increased to around 10,000.

Arrest of suspects

18 December, Suffolk Constabulary reported that they had arrested a 37-year-old man on suspicion of murdering all five women. The man was arrested at 07.20 at a house in Trimley St. Martin near Felixstowe, Suffolk. The detention of the suspect was extended by magistrates by a further period of 24 hours to the maximum of 96 hours allowed under English law.

19 December, at 05.00, police arrested a second suspect, a 48-year-old, at a residence in Ipswich on suspicion of committing murder.

20 December, police were granted a 36-hour extension to question the second suspect in detention. 2

1 December a joint statement was issued by DCS Gull, and Michael Crimp, senior prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service in Suffolk, announced that the second suspect named as Steve Wright had been charged with the murder of all five women. Police said that the first suspect, who was not officially named, was released on police bail. Bail was cancelled on 6 June for the first suspect, as no more inquiries involving the case were to be undertaken involving this person.

Court appearances

Wright appeared before magistrates in Ipswich on 22 December 2006 and was remanded in custody. On 2 January 2007 Wright appeared before Ipswich Crown Court and was remanded in custody to appear before a court on 1 May. On 1 May Wright formally entered a plea of not guilty; the judge indicated the trial would be heard at Ipswich crown court in January 2008.

On 14 January 2008, Wright appeared at Ipswich Crown Court ahead of his trial, which began on 16 January, with the prosecution opening their case. This was the first time specific details were released to the public. These included the bodies of two of the victims, Anneli Alderton and Annette Nicholls, being deliberately posed in the cruciform position, DNA evidence linking Steve Wright to three of the victims and fibre evidence also connecting him to the victims.

The defence argued that Wright was a frequenter of prostitutes, and he had "full sex" with all of the victims, barring Tania Nichols, whom he "picked up" with the intention of sexual relations, but apparently changed his mind and dropped her off back in the red light district of Ipswich. This contradicts Wright's earlier statement when stopped by police in the district in the early hours of the morning, when he said that he "did not know he was in the red light district" and that he was driving around "because he could not sleep". Wright's rented flat is located in the red light area.

On the 21 January, jurors were taken to sites involved in the case. These included Wright's rented house, which they viewed only from the outside, and the areas where the victims were found.

During the trial the prosecutor, Peter Wright QC, suggested that Steve Wright may not have acted alone, as the remains of Anneli Alderton were found some distance from the road but with no evidence that her body had been dragged by one person.

Jury

The jury in the trial was the second group chosen for the task, as a member of the original jury (which consisted of ten men, and two women) had a health issue which would have been prohibitive for the trial. The sentencing jury consisted of nine men and three women. All potential jurors had to complete a questionnaire, which asked if the candidates knew any of the victims, witnesses, or the suspect.

The defence lawyer, Timothy Langdale QC, noted that the jurors had a particularly difficult task given the media coverage of the events. The judge ordered them to decide the case based only on evidence presented in court.

Verdict

On 21 February 2008, after eight hours of deliberation, the jury returned a unanimous guilty verdict against Steve Wright on all five counts of murder. Sentencing took place at 10:30 a.m. on 22 February. He was found guilty of murder, which carries an automatic term of life imprisonment, but in such cases the judge recommends a minimum number of years the offender should serve before parole can be considered. The Prosecution QC demanded that life should mean life for Wright and he should never be released from prison. Subsequently, on 22 February 2008, Wright was sentenced to life imprisonment and Mr Justice Gross said that life should mean life, on the basis that the murders resulted from a "substantial degree of pre-meditation and planning".

After the verdict was passed, relatives of the victims thanked the police for their efforts to solve the crime and some family members also expressed their feelings that life imprisonment was not enough, and that Wright should face the death penalty. Craig Bradshaw stated:

"Today, as this case has come to an end, we would like to say justice has been done but we're afraid that where five young lives have been cruelly ended the person responsible will be kept warm, nourished and protected. In no way has justice been done. These crimes deserve the ultimate punishment and that can only mean one thing. Where a daughter and the other victims were given no human rights by the monster, his will be guarded by the establishment at great cost to the taxpayers of this country and emotionally to the bereaved families. Where a daughter and the other victims were given no human rights by the monster, his will be guarded by the establishment at great cost to the taxpayers of this country and emotionally to the bereaved families."

However, other family members seemed satisfied with the verdict. The father of Gemma Adams said:

"I am very relieved and pleased for all of the families that this is now over and we can now start to get on with our lives."

Prime minister Gordon Brown praised the "professionalism and dedication" of the police and prosecutors involved in the case, whilst using it as an example of what he believed to be the importance of the national DNA database.

Possible Lamplugh link

Wright worked as a steward aboard the QE2 at the same time as the missing Suzy Lamplugh worked as a beautician on board the ship. Lamplugh, who has been missing since 1986 and was declared dead in 1994, was an acquaintance of Wright's. Lamplugh's father confirmed that he has been contacted by Metropolitan police officers investigating a possible link between his daughter and Wright; Wright's ex-wife has also told the press that Wright had been on shore leave around the time of Lamplugh's disappearance.

According to media reports, Lamplugh would meet up with Wright after he moved to Brixton. The police have stated that "We are not prepared to discuss who we may or may not wish to interview in connection with any ongoing investigation." However Suffolk police have confirmed they have been approached by Scotland Yard in connection with the Lamplugh case.

Steve Wright biography

Steve Gerald James Wright was born in the Norfolk village of Erpingham in April 1958. One of four children, including one brother, of a military policeman and a veterinary nurse. Whilst on military service the family had lived in both Malta and Singapore. Wright's parents split in the 1960s and both remarried. Wright's father, Conrad, with whom he stayed, fathered two more children with his new family.

Steve Wright left school aged 16 and shortly after joined the Merchant Navy, becoming a chef on ferries sailing from Felixstowe, Suffolk. Aged 21 he married and had a son. The marriage broke up after eight years and from then he worked as a dock worker, a steward on the QE2, a lorry driver, a barman, and just prior to his arrest, a fork-lift truck driver. His second marriage lasted less than one year whilst he was a pub landlord in Norwich.  He became a father again (this time to a daughter) with another partner in 1992, when he was manager of a public house in South London. This post was lost due to his gambling and drinking behaviour. It is known that throughout these times Wright built up large debts largely through gambling, and has recently been declared bankrupt. Wright had twice tried to commit suicide firstly by carbon monoxide poisoning and then, in 2000, by an overdose of pills.

Wright met his last partner Pamela Wright (the shared surname is a coincidence) in 2001 in Felixstowe, and they moved to the house in Ipswich together in 2004. Wright had always admitted that he had used prostitutes, firstly whilst in the Merchant Navy, and continuously throughout his life.

A former prostitute Lindi St Clair has claimed that she was attacked by Steve Wright in the 1980s. In Ipswich he admitted he went to certain massage and sauna establishments that were actually brothels. Throughout his trial he had stated that he had used prostitutes on many occasions, including three of the victims, and when his partner began working night shifts their sex life became almost non-existent; so he returned to prostitutes who were based on the nearby streets, procuring a dozen in the final three months of 2006.

Media coverage

Before the bodies started being recovered, coverage was mostly confined to the local media. The national BBC news began to report the investigation following the discovery of the body of Tania Nicol, and after the discovery of the body of Anneli Alderton, the story started getting major exposure on a national and international level.

Though never officially named by the Police, the media named the first suspect arrested in connection to the killings as Tom Stephens. The BBC and the Daily Mirror both released interviews with Stephens given before his arrest, something the BBC were criticised for in case it should affect any future trial. Images of Stephens were also used in many media articles, and taken from his MySpace page.

The murders have been likened to those by Peter Sutcliffe, the "Yorkshire Ripper" who was convicted of murdering 13 women, mainly those who worked as prostitutes, over a period of five years from 1975 to 1980 in northern England; and to "Jack the Ripper", the infamous Victorian serial murderer who also targeted prostitutes.

As with previous serial killers dating back to Jack the Ripper, many sections of the media have attempted to coin a name for the presumed murderer, using the "Suffolk Strangler", and other terms to refer to the case.

A reward was offered, first by local business Call Connection. It initially offered 25,000, this was raised to 50,000. Shortly after, the News of the World offered a 250,000 reward for leads to a direct arrest and conviction of the murderer/murderers bringing the total reward on offer to 300,000.

Concerns about the media coverage

On 21 December 2006, the then Attorney General Lord Goldsmith issued guidance to the media after concerns were raised by Suffolk constabulary about the coverage and potential prejudice of a future trial. Lord Goldsmith urged the media to show restraint in what they reported about the two suspects being held, for fear of prejudicing any possible trial.

Coverage of related issues

The murders refocused press attention on a number of controversial issues in British politics.

The first is that of prostitution in the United Kingdom. The laws concerning this have long been criticised. A long-term approach to tackling prostitution but did not proceed with them. Prostitution in itself is not illegal in the UK, but living off the proceeds of prostitution is. The murders have highlighted the vulnerability of prostitutes and the lack of action taken by the government, whether to be more punitive in the hope of reducing the numbers of prostitutes on the streets, to move towards legalised brothels and other measures to improve the safety of the women, or to target the demand for prostitution through prosecution of the clients, as is done in Sweden.

The second is that of drug use and whether it should be legalised or decriminalised, provided on prescription to registered addicts, or penalised more harshly. High numbers (95% according to the Home Office) of street prostitutes in the United Kingdom have a history of substance abuse, and prostitution is one means of funding addiction.

A third area of debate relates to possible restructuring of police forces in Britain. During 2005, the government proposed merging smaller police forces in England and Wales (of which Suffolk Constabulary is one) with their neighbouring counterparts with the stated aims of improving the ability to pursue major inquiries (such as anti-terrorism, drug-trafficking and other similar complex investigations) and making efficiency savings. However, this plan was subsequently abandoned in July 2006.

Timeline of events

  • 30 October 2006

    • Tania Nicol goes missing.

  • 2 November

    • A suspect is interviewed voluntarily by the police.

  • 7 November

    • Nicol's mother issues an appeal for information.

  • 15 November

    • Gemma Adams goes missing, police appeal for information.

  • 22 November

    • A suspect's house is searched by police.

  • 2 December

    • Gemma Adams's body is found near Hintlesham west of Ipswich.

  • 3 December

    • Anneli Alderton goes missing.

  • 5 December

    • Annette Nicholls goes missing.

  • 8 December

    • Tania Nicol's body is found near Copdock southwest of Ipswich.

  • 9 December

    • Police confirm "obvious similarities" between the deaths of Nicol and Adams.

  • 10 December

    • Anneli Alderton's body is found near Nacton. Paula Clenell goes missing.

  • 12 December

    • Bodies of Nicholls and Clenell are found in close proximity to one another near Levington southeast of Ipswich.

  • 13 December

    • Police in Suffolk reveal that there has been a large public response in aid of the investigation.

    • Clothes of two women were found.

  • 14 December

    • Police confirm that one of the bodies found 12 December near Levington is Paula Clennell.

  • 15 December

    • Police confirm that the second of the bodies found on 12 December is that of Annette Nicholls.

    • Media reports that a sixth woman has been reported missing are later disproved.

    • Nicol's father makes public appeal to help solve her murder.

  • 16 December 2006

    • Police release CCTV footage of Alderton on the day she vanished.

  • 18 December

    • At 07.20 a 37-year-old man is arrested at his home in Trimley St. Martin, on suspicion of murder. The man was not named by police.

  • 19 December

    • A second male suspect, aged 48, from Ipswich, is arrested.

    • Magistrates grant police a 36-hour extension to hold and question the first arrested suspect.

  • 21 December

    • Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney General, issued guidelines to the media regarding the reporting of information about the two men in custody.

    • Police announce that they have released the first suspect on bail, while the second suspect is named as Steve Wright and is charged with the murder of all five women and will appear in court the next day.

  • 22 December

    • Steve Wright appears in court before Ipswich magistrates and is remanded in custody.

  • 2 January 2007

    • Steve Wright appeared at Ipswich Crown Court.

  • 1 May

    • Steve Wright appeared at Ipswich Crown court pleading not guilty to five counts of murder.

  • 14 January, 2008

    • Jury selection begins for Wright's trial at Ipswich Crown court; he pleads not guilty.

  • 16 January

    • Wright's trial begins.

  • 21 February

    • Steve Wright found guilty of murdering all five women.

  • 22 February

    • Wright sentenced to life imprisonment, with the trial judge recommending that he should never be released from prison.

Wikipedia.org

 

 

 
 
 
 
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