Ipswich killer forgiven by street girl's father
2008: The Christian father of murdered Ipswich prostitute Tania Nicol has revealed why he had to forgive her killer. Tania was one of five girls murdered in Ipswich by convicted serial killer Steve Wright.
But brave father and born-again Christian Jim Duell declared that God had given him the grace to forgive the murderer.
The retired church caretaker told reporters: “I forgive him. If I didn’t, I would be consumed with anger and hatred. I’m not going to visit him in prison and make friends, but I made a decision to forgive him. It wasn’t easy but it has helped me.”
Jim, 60, used his faith to help him deal with the news that his daughter’s body had been found. “I’m a born-again Christian. I’d been assured that she was OK. I was worried about her soul,” he said.
”When I went out for a walk I asked the Lord, ‘Is she really OK?’, and I got his assurance. I felt like I was walking on air. That’s what I was more concerned about, and I thank God for that.”
Mr Duell and Tania’s mum, Kerry Nicol, desperately tried to save the teenager from the peril of drugs that led her to prostitution and, ultimately, her murder.
Neither knew until it was too late that their 19-year-old daughter was leading a secret life on the streets to fund an addiction to heroin.
Mr Duell is still haunted by a memory of driving through Ipswich and, to his innocent delight, spotting Tania standing on a street corner.
”I stopped and offered her a lift,” he said. “She was wearing a short skirt and I said, ‘Aren’t you cold?’ She was smiling and said she was all right, thanks, so I drove on. Now I realise that she must have been ‘working’.”
Mr Duell recalled the moment he locked eyes with the killer in the courtroom. It was the first day of Wright’s trial, and Mr Duell said: “He seemed to me the sort of guy who doesn’t even care what he’s done. Anyone who had a bit of a heart would start to break down a little bit, but this guy looked totally unrepentant.”
Mr Duell, who now lives alone after separating from Tania’s mother, painted a picture of a cheeky little girl growing up full of vitality and curiosity.
“Tania was a happy, smiling girl at school,” he said. “She had lots of friends and got good school reports. We were very proud. She was in the Sea Cadets and used to take such pride in hanging up her uniform all neat and tidy. She was 12 and met Prince Andrew when he visited.”
At Chantry High School, Tania got a boyfriend. Mr Duell said: “Sea Cadets went out the window. She was 15 and he introduced her to cigarettes and then cannabis. Within a year or two, she was in the grip of hard drugs.
“She had sores on her face but if you mentioned it she got upset. I walked into her bedroom and found some needles. She and I and her mother sat around the kitchen table to discuss it, but she insisted they belonged to a friend.
“I said to her, ‘If you carry on like this you’re going to end up in an institution, in jail or dead.” I was trying to shock her but she didn’t say anything.”
Mr Duell said not a day passes without him thinking of his daughter.
“We can’t get Tania back, but I know she is in a wonderful place now. As for the man who did this, if he doesn’t repent, if there’s a hell, where do you think he’s going?” he added.
Pictured above is killer Steve Wright, left, and Tania Nicol's father Jim Duell, right.