A judge in eastern England has ruled that Steve Wright, who was yesterday found guilty of the murders of five women, will have to spend the rest of his life in prison.

Forklift truck driver Wright, 49, was sentenced for the murder of the five women, who worked as prostitutes in Ipswich, in late 2006.

Wright, who had sex with four of the five women, left two of the bodies in a crucifix position with arms outstretched.

'It is right you should spend your whole life in prison,' judge Peter Gross told Ipswich Crown Court. 'This was a targeted campaign of murder.'

Drugs and prostitution had exposed them to risk but neither, he added, had killed them.

'You did - you are responsible for their deaths,' he told an expressionless Wright. 'You killed them, stripped them and left them in rural or semi-rural locations.

'Why you did it may never be known but as the jury have concluded, disbelieving your denials, murder them you did. As a result, there is only one sentence - that of life imprisonment.'

Wright consistently denied the allegations even though his DNA was found on three of the victims and bloodstains from two of them were found on his jacket at his home.

After Wright's conviction yesterday, the families of two of the dead women called for the return of the death penalty. Wright's father told newspapers he had disowned his son and wanted him to die for his crimes.

Wright had murdered the five women while his 63-year-old partner Pamela was working night shifts. Their bodies were found in the space of just ten days around the city.

After two days of deliberations, the jury of nine men and three women found Wright guilty of murdering Gemma Adams, 25, Tania Nicol, 19, Anneli Alderton, 24, Paula Clennell, 24, and Annette Nicholls, 29.

Detective Chief Superintendent Stewart Gull of Suffolk Police said the 'appalling crimes left a community, a county and a nation in a state of profound shock'.