'Crossbow cannibal' Briton in court over prostitutes' killings

28th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

A British man accused of murdering three prostitutes described himself as the "crossbow cannibal" Friday, as he appeared in court charged with the killings.

Stephen Griffiths, 40, is accused of murdering 36-year-old Suzanne Blamires, who went missing last Friday, Shelley Armitage, 31, who has been missing since last month, and Susan Rushworth, 43, who disappeared last June.

Dressed in a black shirt and navy blue jeans, Griffiths made a brief appearance at Bradford Magistrates' Court before being remanded to appear at the city's Crown Court later in the day.

Asked to confirm his name, he said "the crossbow cannibal" -- an apparent reference to recent newspaper reports on the case.

Griffiths, reportedly a psychology graduate researching criminology, was arrested on Monday at his home on the edge of the city's red-light district and after several days of questioning by police, was charged late Thursday.

The killings in Bradford, an industrial city in Yorkshire in northern England, have evoked memories of the infamous "Yorkshire Ripper", Peter Sutcliffe, who murdered 13 women in the 1970s.

The remains of one of the missing women, Blamires, were found in a river on Tuesday. The bodies of the other two have not been found.

Relatives of some of the victims were in court and some wiped away tears as the brief proceedings got under way.

Blamires' mother, Nicky, described her daughter as "bright and articulate" and said she was training to be a nurse.

"Unfortunately my daughter went down the wrong path and she did not have the life she was meant to have," she said. "She was a much-loved daughter, sister and niece and what has happened to her will haunt me to the day I die."

She added: "At the end of the day nobody deserves this. All these girls were human beings and people's daughters."

Armitage's daughter Kirsty said of her mother: "Even though she used to take drugs and stuff, my friends always used to have a laugh with her and she'd give her right arm to anybody.

"She wasn't like all these other druggies. She was just completely different. She was like a sister more than a mum."

Sutcliffe, jailed for life in 1981 for killing 13 women and the attempted murder of seven, began a judicial bid to be freed in March. The 63-year-old is being held at the high-security Broadmoor Hospital, west of London.

In 2008 a forklift truck driver, Steve Wright, was convicted of the murders of five prostitutes in Ipswich, eastern England, two years earlier.

© 2010 AFP

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