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Coronation Street’s Bruce Jones was wrongly accused of being Yorkshire Ripper

The Coronation Street actor who played Les Battersby was once mistaken for the Yorkshire Ripper after he stumbled upon the body of one of his victims. 

Bruce Jones, who starred in the ITV soap for ten years before his axe in 2007, became an unlikely suspect during Peter Sutcliffe’s savage killing spree in the 1970s. 

Jones had found the mutilated body of the Ripper’s fifth victim, 20-year-old Jean Jordan, in 1977.

The actor later revealed the discovery led to the breakdown of his marriage and left him suffering from nightmares. 

Peter Sutcliffe died this morning at the age of 74 after refusing treatment for coronavirus.  

Bruce Jones, who starred in the ITV soap for ten years before his axe in 2007, became an unlikely suspect during Peter Sutcliffe's savage killing spree in the 1970s.

Peter Sutcliffe

Bruce Jones, who starred in the ITV soap for ten years before his axe in 2007, became an unlikely suspect during Peter Sutcliffe’s savage killing spree in the 1970s.

Sex worker Jean Jordan was the Ripper’s first victim in Manchester October 1, 1977. 

He beat the young mother-of-two 11 times with a hammer in allotments next to Southern Cemetery, dumped her body and threw her bag, containing a brand new £5 note he gave her, into nearby shrubs. 

Sex worker Jean Jordan was the Ripper's first victim in Manchester October 1, 1977

Sex worker Jean Jordan was the Ripper’s first victim in Manchester October 1, 1977

Police found the bag and traced the serial number on the note back to the payroll of Yorkshire hauliers T and W H Clark, who employed Peter Sutcliffe, but when questioned he provided an alibi that he was at a party.

Eight days later, allotment holder Bruce Jones found Jean’s body. 

She had been decapitated, with her intestines wrapped around her waist. 

He called police but became a suspect – which he claims led to his marriage to his first wife breaking down in 1982. 

Jones told the Mirror in 2013: ‘[Sutcliffe] uncovered her, he was there that day, he’d hacked away at her. I lost my first marriage, my children.

‘I lost everything because of that. It actually destroyed me to learn that people can do that to a human being. I had nightmares like you wouldn’t believe.’

He later admitted he still suffers nightmares.   

Jones was sacked in 2007 when he told fellow pub customers about the Tracy Barlow murder storyline.  

In 2013, he opened up about his battle with depression which he says started in his twenties after he found Jean’s body. 

The father-of-four told ITV at the time: ‘I actually found Jean Jordan the Yorkshire Ripper body who was so badly mutilated by the Ripper.

‘I didn’t work for a year and I’d sit on my own. I’d just go for a drink and try not to think about it and all those years ago from twenty years of age having that in my mind.

‘I was working on an allotment and I’d gone over and there she was – a face in the bushes. I’d never spoke about it. I was ill for twelve month… and it just built up and built up.’

Jones was sacked in 2007 when he told fellow pub customers about the Tracy Barlow murder storyline. Pictured, Jones as Les Battersby in 2005

Jones was sacked in 2007 when he told fellow pub customers about the Tracy Barlow murder storyline. Pictured, Jones as Les Battersby in 2005

In 2015, Jones revealed he was living on benefits after blowing his £1m fortune when he was axed from the soap. 

He’d earned £140,000 a year at his peak and pocketed more than £1million during his Coronation Street career. 

Jones had already struggled to cope with his drinking while on the show. In 1998, he was banned from driving for three years after admitting being drunk behind the wheel.

He hit headlines in March 2010 when he admitted trying to kill himself and his wife in a 70mph crash. 

He was convicted of dangerous driving after admitting grabbing the steering wheel from his wife Sandra and shouting ‘I’ll kill us both’ as they drove in Wales. 

A composite of 12 of the 13 victims murdered by Sutcliffe. Victims are: (top row, left to right) Wilma McCann, Emily Jackson, Irene Richardson, Patricia Atkinson; (middle row, left to right) Jayne McDonald, Jean Jordan, Yvonne Pearson, Helen Rytka; (bottom row, left to right) Vera Millward, Josephine Whitaker, Barbara Leach, Jacqueline Hill

A composite of 12 of the 13 victims murdered by Sutcliffe. Victims are: (top row, left to right) Wilma McCann, Emily Jackson, Irene Richardson, Patricia Atkinson; (middle row, left to right) Jayne McDonald, Jean Jordan, Yvonne Pearson, Helen Rytka; (bottom row, left to right) Vera Millward, Josephine Whitaker, Barbara Leach, Jacqueline Hill

Arrogant to the bitter end: How Yorkshire Ripper bragged he wouldn’t catch Covid in jail… as victims say coronavirus ‘has a happy end’ after virus claims life of serial killer who murdered 13 women in 70s and 80s

By Rory Tingle for MailOnline 

The son of one of Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe’s victims today said he was glad covid had produced ‘one happy ending’ following his death this morning at the age of 74 after refusing treatment for the virus. 

The frail serial killer, who murdered at least 13 women in the 1970s and 1980s, died at the University Hospital of North Durham at 1.10am after his lungs failed overnight. No visitors were by his bedside due to covid rules.

The Ripper had previously signed ‘do not resuscitate forms’ – while friends said he astonishingly believed he would ‘go to heaven’ after his death because he had become a Jehovah’s Witness. 

Marcella Claxton, who was left needing more than 50-stitches after being over the head with a hammer, also welcomed the news. 

She told MailOnline: ‘I’m happy he’s gone. I’ve thought about what he did to me every day since and although the news that’s he’s died brings those horrible memories back at least now I may be able to get some closure. 

‘I’m hoping it will bring me a little peace knowing he’s no longer with us.’

Neil Jackson, whose mother Emily was killed by Sutcliffe after he hit her 52 times with a hammer, heard about his death today in a phone call from his son. 

He told MailOnline: ‘My first thought was ‘thank God for that’. It’s a big relief.  

Ian Tanfield, 62, the fiancee of Sutcliffe’s final victim, Jacqueline Hill, said: ‘There’s no point in going back over this – the only bonus is he’s dead now.’ 

A son of one of the Ripper’s victims, who asked not to be named, told The Sun: ‘Good riddance. Who’d have thought that coronavirus could produce at least one happy ending?’ 

Brian Booth, chairman of West Yorkshire Police Federation, said: ‘On hearing of the death of Peter Sutcliffe today, I feel good riddance. The monster who murdered so many innocent women in and around West Yorkshire should rot in hell.’ 

Downing Street described Peter Sutcliffe was a ‘depraved and evil individual’ and said it is right that he died behind bars, while Boris Johnson’s thoughts are with his victims and their families. 

But in an astonishing act of forgiveness, the son of Sutcliffe’s first recognised victim said he reached out to the serial killer’s brother, Carl, ‘to offer my condolences’ after hearing the news of his death.

Sutcliffe was pictured in public for the last time on September 26, 2015 when he was being taken from Broadmoor to Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey for eye treatment

Sutcliffe was pictured in public for the last time on September 26, 2015 when he was being taken from Broadmoor to Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey for eye treatment

Sutcliffe - pictured for the last time in public in 2015 - suffered years of ill health, and had been admitted to hospital twice in the week before his death

Sutcliffe – pictured for the last time in public in 2015 – suffered years of ill health, and had been admitted to hospital twice in the week before his death 

On August 10 1974, Sutcliffe married Sonia (they are pictured at their wedding day). Less than a year later, the lorry driver picked up a hammer and began attacking women, two in Keighley and one in Halifax

On August 10 1974, Sutcliffe married Sonia (they are pictured at their wedding day). Less than a year later, the lorry driver picked up a hammer and began attacking women, two in Keighley and one in Halifax 

Mr McCann, who was only five years old when his mother, Wilma, was murdered in 1975, told the BBC: ‘Carl Sutcliffe reached out to me many years ago when he read about my journey – he reached out to me with compassion and I felt the same.

‘I gave him a call when I got the news to offer my condolences. I know he obviously did some horrendous things but he was still his brother so I felt like I wanted to call him.’

He said news of Sutcliffe’s death had brought him ‘some degree of closure’, but that he had never wished him dead, nor was he celebrating the news.    

Mr McCann said he was ‘surprised’ how he felt at hearing Sutcliffe had died 45 years after killing his mother. 

He told BBC Breakfast: ‘It brings me some degree of closure, not that I wished him dead, far from it.

‘Every time we hear a news story about him, and my mum’s photo is often shown, it’s just another reminder of what he did.

‘One positive to come from this is that we’ll hear much less about him and no more reminders about what happened all those years ago.’

The 13 murder victims of the Yorkshire Ripper

Wilma McCann

Wilma McCann

Wilma McCann

Age: 28

Killed on: October 30, 1975

A sex worker and mother of four, Sutcliffe battered Wilma McCann to death with a hammer and stabbed her in the neck, chest and stomach after picking her up in Leeds. He carried on life as normal with wife Sonia, and was to tell police: ‘After that first time I developed and played up a hatred for prostitutes in order to justify within myself a reason why I had attacked and killed Wilma McCann.’ Her body was found in Prince Phillip Playing Fields.

Emily Jackson

Emily Jackson

Emily Jackson

Age: 42

Killed on: January 20, 1976

A part-time sex worker, Sutcliffe pretended his car wouldn’t start when he picked her up and battered her twice with a hammer as she offered to help. He the dragged her body into a yard and used a screwdriver to viciously stab her a total of 52 times in the neck, breasts, lower abdomen and back. Her body was found on Manor Street in Leeds.

Irene Richardson

Irene Richardson

Irene Richardson

Age: 28

Killed on: February 5, 1977

Another prostitute Sutcliffe picked up, he attacked her in Roundhay Park, Leeds, where they had stopped so she could go to the toilet. As she crouched down, the killer delivered three heavy blows to her head with a hammer, then he tore open her jacket and blouse and began to stab and slash her with his Stanley knife.

Patricia Atkinson

Patricia Atkinson

Patricia Atkinson

Age: 32

Killed on: April 23, 1977

Sutcliffe’s first victim in his home town of Bradford was another prostitute. He picked her up and took her to a flat in Oak Avenue, where he picked up a hammer and dealt four massive blows to the back of her head. He also stabbed her six times in the stomach with a knife and tried to do the same to her back, before throwing bed linen over the top of her body and leaving.

Jayne MacDonald

Jayne MacDonald

Jayne MacDonald

Age: 16

Killed on: April 23, 1977

A shop assistant who had just left school, Jayne MacDonald was the first ‘non-prostitute’ victim and it was her death that saw the hunt for the killer draw national attention. Sutcliffe spotted her in the early hours of the morning in Leeds and followed her into an adventure playground, where he struck her with a hammer on the back of the head. After she fell down, he then dragged her, face down, into the play areas and stabbed her several times in the chest and back. 

Jean Jordan

Jean Jordan

Jean Jordan

Age: 20

Killed on: October 1, 1977

A young prostitute, Jean Jordan was the Ripper’s first victim in Manchester.  He beat her 11 times with a hammer in allotments next to Southern Cemetery, dumped her body and threw her bag, containing a brand new £5 note he gave her, into nearby shrubs. Police found the bag and traced the serial number on the note back to the payroll of Yorkshire hauliers T and W H Clark, who employed Peter Sutcliffe, but when questioned he provided an alibi that he was at a party.

Yvonne Pearson

Yvonne Pearson

Yvonne Pearson

Age: 21

Killed on: January 21, 1978

A young prostitute, Sutcliffe took her to a piece of waste ground at the back of Drummond’s mill in Bradford, where his father worked. There he hit her several times with a hammer. He pulled her body behind an old sofa, stuffed horsehair down her throat before kicking her in the head and jumping down on her chest.  

Helen Rytka

Age: 18

Killed on: January 18, 1978

A teenage prostitute, Helen Rytka was picked up and driven to a timber yard in Great Northern Street, Huddersfield by the killer.  There he beat her with a hammer several times but she remained alive until he grabbed a knife and stabbed her multiple times through the heart and lungs. Before leaving, he hid her body behind a stack of timber.

Vera Millward

Vera Millward

Vera Millward

Age: 40

Killed on: May 16, 1978

A prostitute living in a run-down council flat in Hulme, Manchester, Vera Millward was Sutcliffe’s ninth victim. He took her Manchester Royal Infirmary where he attacked her with a hammer as soon as she got out the car. After killing her with the hammer blows, he then dragged her body to a spot by a fence and began to stab her with a knife.

Josephine Whitaker

Josephine Whitaker

Josephine Whitaker 

Age: 19

Killed on: April 4, 1979

A teenage building society clerk, Josephine Whitaker was approached by Sutcliffe in Savile Park, Halifax where they got chatting. He hit her from behind with a hammer and again as she lay on the ground before dragging her into the darkness after hearing voices. He then stabbed her 21 times with a screwdriver in the chest and stomach as well as in the leg. Her skull had been fractured from ear to ear.   

Barbara Leach

Barbara Leach

Barbara Leach

Age: 20

Killed on: September 20, 1979

Barbara Leach was a university student, about to start her third and final year in social psychology. He spotted her while driving in Bradford and opened the car door to get out as she was walking towards him. He attacked her with a hammer and dragged her into a back yard, before stabbing her with the same screwdriver that he had used on Josephine Whitaker. He then placed her body in a distorted jack-knife position behind a low wall into an area where dustbins were usually kept, covering her body with an old piece of carpet and some stones. 

Marguerite Walls

Marguerite Walls

Marguerite Walls

Age: 47

Killed on: August 20, 1980

A civil servant who worked at the Department of Education and Science office in Pudsey, Marguerite Walls was the Ripper’s twelfth victim. After spotting her in Leeds, he attacked her with a hammer blow, yelling ‘filthy prostitute’. He then looped rope around her neck and dragged her into a garden when he would strangle her and strip her of all her clothing except her tights. He partially covered the body with grass cuttings and leaves before making his escape. 

Jacqueline Hill

Jacqueline Hill

Jacqueline Hill

Age: 20

Killed on: November 17, 1980

An English student at Leeds University, Jacqueline Hill had taken the bus home from a meeting with probation service workers where she had applied to become a volunteer. Sutcliffe spotted and followed her before delivering a blow to her head as she was passing an opening.  Her body was discovered on a stretch of wasteland 100 yards from where she lived. She suffered four skull fractures and cuts to her head, a stab wound to her left breast and a stab wound to her right eye.  

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He appealed to West Yorkshire Police to make a formal apology for the way in which his mother and other victims of Sutcliffe were described by officers in the 1970s.

He said he wanted the force ‘once and for all’ to ‘apologise to the families, who are still around, for the way in which they described some of the women as ‘innocent’, inferring that some were not innocent – including my mum.

‘I’d invite them to make that apology. They were innocent and it would set the records straight.’

Mr McCann added: ‘I want her to be remembered as the mother of four children, the daughter of her parents.

‘She was a family woman who, through no fault of her own, was going through adversity and made some bad decisions, some risky decisions. She paid for those decisions with her life.’ 

Neil Jackson’s mother Emily was killed by Sutcliffe in 1976. 

Speaking today, he said her death had dominated his life, but he was determined to carry on going, particularly for the sake of his son and grandson, aged 11. 

‘If I hung myself, it would have been another victim for him,’ he told MailOnline. ‘There is many a time I have thought about it. But I have always said, ‘no’. I have my son and my grandson. I lost out when mum died and don’t want them to lose out. 

‘I had a quiet word with my mum this morning. I said to her, ‘thank f*** for that, mum, he’s gone’.’

‘I told her I loved her and I told her I missed her. I tell her that all the time. I think about her all of the time.’  

The family of another Ripper victim Olive Smelt – who was killed in August 1975 – was also relieved that Sutcliffe had died and hit out at him being allowed to live in ‘luxury’ for so many years.

Mrs Smelt, 46, was struck twice on the head with a hammer and slashed with a pickaxe near her home in Halifax, West Yorkshire. She survived the attack but passed away in 2011.

Her daughter Julie Lowry said: ‘I think it’s about time, Sutcliffe should have died a long time ago. He’s taken a lot of people’s lives away from them. I’m not sad, not at all

‘It’s a bit of closure. We’ve had to live with what he did all our lives. Not just us but all victims and their families, people whose lives he affected and destroyed.

‘I think he’s been kept in luxury for how many odd years, so I won’t shed a tear or share any grief at this news.’

Marcella Claxton, whose family had moved to Leeds from the West Indies when she was 10, was attacked by Sutcliffe after she had left a late-night house party in Leeds in May 1976. 

Although she survived, she lost the baby she was four months pregnant with.

Today she welcomed Sutcliffe’s death but said she was still suffering from the effects of the attack 44 years on.     

Meanwhile, former detective Bob Bridgestock said he hoped some victims would find peace following this morning’s news. 

‘Today is about the families and they won’t shed a tear for him, but it will bring back some terrible memories for them,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

‘For those that were attacked and survived, it will give them a little bit of peace knowing that they don’t actually have to hear about him after today any more.’

Mr Bridgestock said Sutcliffe was a ‘brutal’ killer who would be ‘detested’ way after his death, and acknowledged mistakes were made in the search for him.

‘Peter Sutcliffe wasn’t a very intelligent killer, he was just brutal. 

‘It fits, in my mind, into the likes of (Myra) Hindley and (Ian) Brady and the likes of Robert Black – serial killers who will be detested way after they’ve gone.

‘I’ve walked with my dog this morning and people have said: ‘Good news, good riddance,’ and that’s what a lot of people will be thinking about (it).’ 

Mr Bridgestock was one of the first officers on the scene when Josephine Whitaker was murdered by Sutcliffe in 1979.

He said hindsight was a wonderful thing, but senior officers on the case ‘wore blinkers on the investigation’.

‘The police weren’t capable but (back) then the ability of the police was limited, the reviews have shown how limited they were.

‘I can remember Josephine Whitaker’s murder, being in pouring-down weather with another officer, waiting over an hour for some kind of tent to come and try to protect her, to preserve the scene.

‘We use the tarpaulin from a nearby wagon, because it took an hour to get some kind of structure there to protect her. And it’s those kind of things that, fortunately, changed rapidly after he was caught.’ 

John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation, urged people to remember Sutcliffe’s victims.

He tweeted: ‘Lot’s of breaking news about the death of convicted murderer Peter Sutcliffe. I understand why this is news worthy, but my ask of the media is lets show the faces of those he killed, not him. 

‘The 13 women he murdered and the 7 who survived his brutal attacks are in my thoughts.’       

The mother of the Ripper’s final victim, Jacqueline Hill, answered her door today in Middlesbrough. 

Mrs Hill nodded when asked whether she had heard Sutcliffe had died, but said: ‘I’m sorry I don’t walk to talk about it.’ 

Brian Booth, chairman of West Yorkshire Police Federation, said: ‘On hearing of the death of Peter Sutcliffe today, I feel good riddance.

‘The monster who murdered so many innocent women in and around West Yorkshire should rot in hell.

‘He is the very reason most people step to the plate and become police officers – to protect our communities from people like him.’

Mr Booth said: ‘As a child in West Yorkshire, when he was on his reign of terror, I can say his activities caused fear throughout the region.

‘My heart goes out to all the families affected through the loss of their loved ones, but I personally will not be mourning the death of this monster.’ 

Sutcliffe had been suffering health problems for years, and was returned to HMP Frankland around ten days ago after a five-night stay in a local hospital with heart issues. 

However, on his return to the jail’s  medical isolation unit Sutcliffe began to complain again of shortness of breath and chest pain, later testing positive for covid-19 on November 7.    

Sutcliffe was being monitored in isolation over the weekend when his health began to deteriorate and he was readmitted to hospital on Sunday before dying this morning.  

On his first visit he spent five nights there, from November 3, and was discharged after testing negative for Covid – he had complained of Covid-like symptoms on admission to hospital. 

The Prison Service did not release a cause of death but a spokesman said: ‘HMP Frankland prisoner Peter Coonan [born Sutcliffe] died in hospital on 13 November. The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman has been informed’. 

A source told The Sun: ‘No tears were shed. His death was as pitiful as the vile life he had lived.’     

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘The Prime Minister’s thoughts today are with those who lost their lives, the survivors and with the families and the friends of Sutcliffe’s victims.

‘Peter Sutcliffe was a depraved and evil individual whose crimes caused unimaginable suffering and appalled this country, nothing will ever detract from the harm that he caused, but it is right that he died behind bars for his barbaric murders and for his attempted murders.’ 

Sutcliffe was jailed for life at the Old Bailey in May 1981, before being moved to Broadmoor Hospital three years later after he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

He was transferred to HMP Frankland in 2016 after psychiatrists said he was stable enough for jail.    

Born in Bingley, West Yorkshire, in 1946, Sutcliffe left school aged 15 and worked in menial jobs before becoming a grave digger.

He began his killing spree in 1975, battering 28-year-old sex worker Wilma McCann to death on October 30, 1975, which followed three non-fatal attacks on women earlier in the year.

Sutcliffe avoided detection for years due to a series of missed opportunities by police to snare him, and eventually confessed in 1981 when he was brought in due to a police check discovering stolen number plates on his car.

Despite his 24-hour-long confession to the killings, Sutcliffe denied the murders when indicted at court.

In May 1981, he was jailed for 20 life terms at the Old Bailey, with the judge recommending a minimum sentence of 30 years.

He was transferred from Parkhurst prison on the Isle of Wight to Broadmoor secure hospital in Berkshire in 1984 after he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

More than two decades later, a secret report revealed that Sutcliffe probably committed more crimes than the 13 murders and seven attempted murders for which he was convicted.  

And he said he was questioned in prison about 16 unsolved cases – although no further charges were ever brought.

West Yorkshire Police reviewed historical cases linked to Sutcliffe in the 1982 Byford Report and confirmed in 2016 that officers had visited a small number of people named in the report, but later announced they had no plans to charge him with further matters.

The report, written by Sir Lawrence Byford about the flawed Ripper investigation, was completed in 1982 but only made public in 2006.

It said there was an ‘unexplained lull’ in Sutcliffe’s criminal activities between 1969, when he first came to the police’s attention, and the first officially recognised Ripper assault in 1975.

Sutcliffe was jailed for murdering and attacking women between 1976 and 1981.

The report said: ‘We feel it is highly improbable that the crimes in respect of which Sutcliffe has been charged and convicted are the only ones attributable to him.

‘This feeling is reinforced by examining the details of a number of assaults on women since 1969 which, in some ways, clearly fall into the established pattern of Sutcliffe’s overall modus operandi.’

In 2017, Sutcliffe wrote a letter to ITV News Calendar presenter Christine Talbot, in which he said he had never attacked or murdered any men.

He denied involvement in attacks on Fred Craven, who was fatally wounded with a hammer in Bingley in 1966, and John Tomey, who survived a hammer attack by a passenger as they drove across moors near Bingley in 1967.

Sutcliffe in prison van on way to the Old Bailey in London, May 1981

Sutcliffe, 74, was serving a whole life term for his horrific crimes, has suffered from angina, diabetes and near-blindness following an attack from a fellow inmate, in recent years

Sutcliffe in prison van on way to the Old Bailey in London, May 1981 (left). He is pictured on the right in a video grab taken during his time in prison, where he was serving a full life term

Officers in 1981 digging for clues and further victims outside the Ripper's house at Heaton shortly after he had been identified

Officers in 1981 digging for clues and further victims outside the Ripper’s house at Heaton shortly after he had been identified 

Sutcliffe, under a blanket, arriving at Dewsbury Magistrates Court charged with the murder of 13 women and attempted murder of seven others in 1981

Sutcliffe, under a blanket, arriving at Dewsbury Magistrates Court charged with the murder of 13 women and attempted murder of seven others in 1981 

A furious crowd outside Dewsbury Magistrates Court is held back by police when Sutcliffe appeared there in 1981

A furious crowd outside Dewsbury Magistrates Court is held back by police when Sutcliffe appeared there in 1981

The Sheffield street where Sutcliffe was arrested in 1981, bringing to an end the biggest manhunt in British history

The Sheffield street where Sutcliffe was arrested in 1981, bringing to an end the biggest manhunt in British history 

Sonia Sutcliffe, who stood by her husband despite his five-year murder spree, is seen crying as a policewoman accompanies her from the Old Bailey during the Ripper's trial in 1981

Sonia Sutcliffe in 1981

Sonia Sutcliffe, who stood by her husband despite his five-year murder spree, is seen crying as a policewoman accompanies her from the Old Bailey during the Ripper’s trial in 1981

A selection of newspaper front pages from January 5, 1981, the day Sutcliffe made his first appearance in court, where he was charged with 13 counts of murder

A selection of newspaper front pages from January 5, 1981, the day Sutcliffe made his first appearance in court, where he was charged with 13 counts of murder

Sutcliffe said he had been questioned about 16 non-fatal attacks and police were satisfied he was not involved in any of the cases.

In the letter, Sutcliffe wrote: ‘Yes I did some bad things, but I just want people to know I did not attack or murder any males.

‘And with a whole life sentence I’d have nothing to lose, and it would not be in my interest to say I didn’t do it if I did, as I’m in jail till my dying day.’

Sutcliffe’s brother, Carl, told The Mirror this week: ‘I’ve asked him if he killed more and he said no. He says there are no more, he says ‘That’s the lot’.’

West Yorkshire Police confirmed today there were no plans to send any further material about Sutcliffe to the Crown Prosecution Service for consideration. 

Police examine the common land where Josephine Whitaker was found dead on May 14, 1979 in the midst of the Ripper's killing spree

Police examine the common land where Josephine Whitaker was found dead on May 14, 1979 in the midst of the Ripper’s killing spree

Detective Superintendent Jim Hobson, who took over the Ripper investigation from George Oldfield in 1980 and corrected some of his mistakes

Detective Superintendent Jim Hobson, who took over the Ripper investigation from George Oldfield in 1980 and corrected some of his mistakes 

John Sutcliffe, the Ripper's father, died in June 2004, and is pictured in an undated image with his daughters, Maureen Holland and Jane Ellis

John Sutcliffe, the Ripper’s father, died in June 2004, and is pictured in an undated image with his daughters, Maureen Holland and Jane Ellis 

A conference of senior detectives who met in 1979 to discuss how they were going to catch the Ripper - whose killings prompted Britain's biggest ever manhunt

A conference of senior detectives who met in 1979 to discuss how they were going to catch the Ripper – whose killings prompted Britain’s biggest ever manhunt 

Members of the public help police to search the site of where Sutcliffe victim Barbara Leach was murdered in September 1979

Members of the public help police to search the site of where Sutcliffe victim Barbara Leach was murdered in September 1979 

A newspaper front page showing Sutcliffe's victims. The families of many of the victims were dismayed by detectives presenting them as 'fallen women'

A newspaper front page showing Sutcliffe’s victims. The families of many of the victims were dismayed by detectives presenting them as ‘fallen women’ 

Girls of Leeds High School learn self defence to prepare themselves against the Ripper in a photo taken on May 11, 1980

Girls of Leeds High School learn self defence to prepare themselves against the Ripper in a photo taken on May 11, 1980 

Marcella Claxton, pictured here in 1981, was 20 when she was attacked by the killer after she had left a late-night house party in Leeds in May 1976

Ms Claxton, pictured in January 2005, told MailOnline today: 'I'm happy he's gone'

Ms Claxton, pictured in 1981 (left) and January 2005, (right) told MailOnline today: ‘I’m happy he’s gone’. She was 20 when she was attacked by the killer after she had left a late-night house party in Leeds in May 1976

Free to carry out a murderous reign of terror: How newlywed grave-digger Peter Sutcliffe’s barbaric rampage hung a dark cloud over the North… made worse by police incompetence 

 Within the annals of 20th-century serial killers, one name – and one moniker – represents a particularly disturbing chapter.

The fear wrought by Peter Sutcliffe’s barbaric and bloody attacks on young women were compounded by the police incompetence that let him slip the net for so long.

Sutcliffe was the newly-married former grave digger whose brutal reign of terror instilled unshakeable worry in the North of England as police failed to pick up the clues in their pursuit of the notorious murderer known as the Yorkshire Ripper.

Crowds gathered outside Dewsbury court in England after the Yorkshire Ripper was caught and appeared there to be charged with the murder of Jacqueline Hill

Crowds gathered outside Dewsbury court in England after the Yorkshire Ripper was caught and appeared there to be charged with the murder of Jacqueline Hill

A policeman stands guard outside Sutcliffe's home in Heaton, West Yorkshire, in 1981 after he had eventually been apprehended

A policeman stands guard outside Sutcliffe’s home in Heaton, West Yorkshire, in 1981 after he had eventually been apprehended  

Could the Ripper have more victims? How Sutcliffe’s death ends hope for families wanting to find out what happened to loved ones 

The Yorkshire Ripper was responsible for murdering 13 women and attempting to kill seven more, but there has always been speculation that he could have committed more crimes.

Peter Sutcliffe’s death will leave many feeling they will never know if he was responsible for attacking them, more than 40 years ago.

A report completed shortly after he was given 20 life sentences found that Peter Sutcliffe could have been responsible for a further 13 offences. And he said he was questioned in prison about 16 unsolved cases – although no further charges were ever brought.

West Yorkshire Police reviewed historical cases linked to Sutcliffe in the 1982 Byford Report and confirmed in 2016 that officers had visited a small number of people named in the report, but later announced they had no plans to charge him with further matters.

The report, written by Sir Lawrence Byford about the flawed Ripper investigation, was completed in 1982 but only made public in 2006.

It said there was an ‘unexplained lull’ in Sutcliffe’s criminal activities between 1969, when he first came to the police’s attention, and the first officially recognised Ripper assault in 1975.

Sutcliffe was jailed for murdering and attacking women between 1976 and 1981. The report said: ‘We feel it is highly improbable that the crimes in respect of which Sutcliffe has been charged and convicted are the only ones attributable to him.

‘This feeling is reinforced by examining the details of a number of assaults on women since 1969 which, in some ways, clearly fall into the established pattern of Sutcliffe’s overall modus operandi.’

In 2017, Sutcliffe wrote a letter to ITV News Calendar presenter Christine Talbot, in which he said he had never attacked or murdered any men.

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For five years, Sutcliffe stabbed, twisted and butchered the flesh of his victims.

They were teenage girls, shop assistants, prostitutes, clerks. They were mothers, daughters, sisters, wives. And the broad spectrum of victims from various walks of life meant that no woman was safe with Sutcliffe at large.

In all, 13 were killed and seven more were viciously attacked, although police remain convinced the Yorkshire Ripper’s grim roll call of female victims remains higher – not least because a red herring and copious missed opportunities gave Sutcliffe the chance to continue his murderous rampage.

Sutcliffe’s unexpected confession to police in 1981 was followed by his decision to contest the charges – leading to an Old Bailey trial during which he claimed he was on a mission from God to kill prostitutes.

He died on Friday November 13, aged 74, after close to four decades in custody. His killing spree, which began before he turned 30, remains among the most sickening murder investigations of the last century.

Peter William Sutcliffe was born on June 2 1946 in Bingley, West Yorkshire.

A relative loner at school, he left education aged 15 and took on a series of menial jobs. His work as a grave digger was said to have nurtured an awkward and macabre sense of humour.

On August 10 1974, Sutcliffe married Sonia. Less than a year later, the lorry driver picked up a hammer and began attacking women, two in Keighley and one in Halifax.

All three survived and police did not notice the similarities between the attacks.

The first fatality was Wilma McCann. The 28-year-old sex worker and mother-of-four was battered to death in the early hours of October 30 1975.

She was struck with a hammer and stabbed in the neck, chest and stomach after Sutcliffe picked her up in Leeds.

He was later to tell police: ‘After that first time, I developed and played up a hatred for prostitutes in order to justify within myself a reason why I had attacked and killed Wilma McCann.’

But life continued as normal for the Sutcliffes.

His next victim – 42-year-old Emily Jackson from Leeds – was murdered in similarly bloody circumstances in January the following year.

He would apparently wait more than a year before striking again. It was his fifth murder, that of 16-year-old Jayne MacDonald in April 1977, that saw the national press wake up to the fact a serial killer was on the loose.

 

A newspaper clipping from October 1975 describes a 'savage and sadistic sex attack on Leeds mother in fear' Wilma McCann

A newspaper clipping from October 1975 describes a ‘savage and sadistic sex attack on Leeds mother in fear’ Wilma McCann

Sutcliffe leaves Isle of Wight Crown Court after giving evidence against James Costello, who was accused of attacking him in Parkhurst Prison in 1983

His killing spree sparked protests from campaigners against male violence. Pictured in 1981

Sutcliffe leaves Isle of Wight Crown Court after giving evidence against James Costello, who was accused of attacking him in Parkhurst Prison in 1983 (left). His killing spree sparked protests from campaigners against male violence (right, in 1981) 

The University Hospital of North Durham, County Durham, where Peter Sutcliffe died after being admitted for covid-19 complications and heart problems

The University Hospital of North Durham, County Durham, where Peter Sutcliffe died after being admitted for covid-19 complications and heart problems

‘We don’t worry about the Ripper’, said surviving victim’s husband 

Olive Smelt was attacked by the Yorkshire Ripper as she walked home in Halifax on a summer evening in 1975

Olive Smelt was attacked by the Yorkshire Ripper as she walked home in Halifax on a summer evening in 1975

One of Peter Sutcliffe’s surviving victims rarely thought about the man who left her in need of brain surgery, her husband said in 2010.

Olive Smelt was attacked by the Yorkshire Ripper as she walked home in Halifax on a summer evening in 1975.

She was hit twice on the head with a hammer and needed brain surgery to overcome her injuries, but later made a full recovery.

She went on marry and have three children.

Her husband, Harry, aged 85 when the High Court ruled Sutcliffe would spend the rest of his life behind bars, said it was the correct decision for Sutcliffe’s own good.

‘I think it’s as well for him that he does have to remain in,’ Mr Smelt said. There’s a kind of ranking in among prisoners – the more notorious they can be the better it is for them.

‘Think of what would happen if one of the prisoners outside got to him and could say ‘I’m the one who got Peter Sutcliffe’. He could live off that for the rest of his life.’

Mr Smelt said then that neither he nor his wife worried about what would have happened had Sutcliffe been released, and their priorities had changed. Olive Smelt died in 2011. 

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Dubbed the Yorkshire Ripper, the assailant’s identity went unknown for years – in fact police were totally misled by a hoax which took detectives to Sunderland, allowing Sutcliffe to keep on killing.

In 1979, a tape was sent to police by a man calling himself Jack the Ripper. He had already sent a series of hand-written letters from Sunderland and police believed they were on to the killer, discounting all those without a Wearside accent on their substantial database of suspects – Sutcliffe included.

By the summer of that year, Sutcliffe had been interviewed five times. He also bore a significant resemblance to a widely-circulated image of the prime suspect while a banknote discovered near one victim’s body was traced to Sutcliffe’s employer at the time.

However, the fact his accent and handwriting did not match those of the hoaxer meant Sutcliffe remained a free man.

He was finally caught in January 1981 when police ran a check on his car to discover the number plates were stolen.

His passenger was 24-year-old street worker Olivia Reivers – detectives later discovered a hammer and a knife nearby. Their search was over.

Despite a 24-hour-long confession to the killings, Sutcliffe entered not-guilty pleas when indicted at court.

In May 1981, he was jailed for 20 life terms at the Old Bailey, the judge recommending a minimum sentence of 30 years.

He was transferred from Parkhurst prison on the Isle of Wight to Broadmoor secure hospital in Berkshire in 1984 after he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

More than two decades later, a secret report revealed that Sutcliffe probably committed more crimes than the 13 murders and seven attempted murders for which he was convicted.

He left Broadmoor and moved back into mainstream prison in 2016, serving at Frankland Prison, Durham.

He was taken to hospital in October 2020 after suffering a suspected heart attack and returned to the University Hospital of North Durham a fortnight later having contracted coronavirus.

Sutcliffe, who had reportedly refused treatment for Covid-19 and was also suffering from underlying health conditions, insisted on being addressed by his mother’s maiden name of Coonan, but will be forever known as the Ripper.

Bobbies and blunders: The raft of police mistakes that allowed him to slip the net during the biggest manhunt in British history 

The hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper became the biggest manhunt Britain had ever known.

But despite the 2.5 million police man hours expended on catching him, Peter Sutcliffe was allowed to continue his murderous spree for more than five years.

During the police inquiry he was interviewed nine times, but was only caught when picked up by chance with a prostitute in his car. He eventually attacked 20 women, killing 13 of them, between 1975 and 1980.

A series of spectacular police blunders left even Sutcliffe amazed that he had not been caught before.

George Oldfield (Assistant Chief Constable of West Yorkshire), Ronald Gregory (Chief Constable of West Yorkshire) and Jim Hobson (acting Chief Constable of West Yorkshire)- pictured at a press conference shortly after Sutcliffe's arrest in 1981

George Oldfield (Assistant Chief Constable of West Yorkshire), Ronald Gregory (Chief Constable of West Yorkshire) and Jim Hobson (acting Chief Constable of West Yorkshire)- pictured at a press conference shortly after Sutcliffe’s arrest in 1981

A letter to Assistant Chief Constable George Oldfield from 'Wearside Jack' - the cruel prankster that fooled police during their investigation

A letter to Assistant Chief Constable George Oldfield from ‘Wearside Jack’ – the cruel prankster that fooled police during their investigation 

Wearside Jack: Hoaxer who helped the Yorkshire Ripper from 100 miles away 

The Yorkshire Ripper was helped to kill by a stranger he never met and who lived 100 miles away.

In one of criminal history’s cruellest hoaxes, John Humble tricked police into believing the serial killer was Wearside Jack, a man with a gruff Sunderland accent.

That was despite women who survived Peter Sutcliffe’s attacks saying he sounded like a local.

John Humble - the hoaxer known as Wearside Jack - is photographed in Sunderland in 2016. It was revealed this week that he died at the age of 63

John Humble – the hoaxer known as Wearside Jack – is photographed in Sunderland in 2016. It was revealed this week that he died at the age of 63

Humble, for reasons he never fully explained, delighted in taunting the press and detectives with letters and an infamous tape, anonymously claiming he was the killer who was terrifying northern England in the late 1970s.

He sent it to assistant chief constable George Oldfield in 1979, saying: ‘I’m Jack.

‘I have the greatest respect for you, George, but Lord, you’re no nearer catching me now than four years ago when I started.’

The ruse hijacked the already-cumbersome police inquiry and diverted resources from the streets of Yorkshire and the North West to Wearside.

The vast sum of £1 million was spent on adverts to try to help find Wearside Jack.

Dialect experts analysed the recordings and identified the exact area of Sunderland the suspect could be from, leading to 40,000 men in the North East being investigated.

The tape and letters convinced officers because they included details which police, wrongly, believed had never been made public.

Though Sutcliffe had been questioned by police, his handwriting did not match that in the hoaxer’s letters.

After Humble torpedoed the police inquiry, Sutcliffe killed three more women before he was caught by two officers in a red light area of Sheffield in January 1981.

It later transpired Humble had anonymously tried to tell police they had been hoaxed, but the confession was lost among many other similar claims. In the following months and years he tried to kill himself, once jumping from a bridge over the Wear.

He became an alcoholic and remained undetected until a cold case review in 2005 matched DNA from saliva on an envelope to a sample he gave following an arrest for being drunk and disorderly.

Humble was so intoxicated when he was arrested, then aged 50, that police had to wait a day for him to sober up.

He was jailed in 2006 for eight years for perverting the course of justice and drank himself to death in 2019. It emerged that Humble had a grudge against police as a youth and an interest in the Jack the Ripper story.

But he had felt guilt when the Ripper continued to kill after the tape arrived, telling police: ‘I blamed myself for it. That’s why I phoned in. They took no notice and another two got killed.’ 

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At his Old Bailey trial he said: ‘It was just a miracle they did not apprehend me earlier – they had all the facts.’

The Ripper incident room at Millgarth police station used a card index system which was overwhelmed with information and not properly cross-referenced, leading to evidence against Sutcliffe getting lost in the system.

Crucial similarities between him and the suspect, like the gap in his teeth and his size seven feet, were not picked up.

As early as 1976, when Marcella Claxton was hit over the head with a hammer near her home in Leeds, potentially vital evidence was overlooked.

She survived the attack and was able to help police produce a photofit – which later proved to be accurate – but she was discounted as a Ripper victim because she was not a prostitute.

On one occasion Sutcliffe was interviewed by officers who showed him a picture of the Ripper’s bootprint near a body – they failed to notice that Sutcliffe was wearing the exact same pair of boots.

When a £5 note was found in the pocket of 28-year-old Jean Jordan, in Manchester in 1977, police again failed to connect Sutcliffe.

The note was traced to one of six companies, including Clark Transport, which employed Sutcliffe as a lorry driver.

He was interviewed but was given an alibi by his wife and mother, which was accepted.

Police also overlooked Sutcliffe’s arrest in 1969 for carrying a hammer in a red light district, and attempts by his friend Trevor Birdsall to point the finger at him in a anonymous letter.

But the worst blunder came in 1979, when Assistant Chief Constable George Oldfield of West Yorkshire Police , who was in overall command of the hunt, was hoodwinked by a hoax tape and two letters sent from Sunderland, which purported to be from the Ripper.

There were warnings of a hoax from voice experts and other detectives, but Oldfield pressed on, convinced this was his man.

Because the voice on the tape had a North East accent, Sutcliffe, who was from Bradford, was not in the frame.

Oldfield’s mistake has been described as one of the biggest in British criminal history, but he was widely regarded as a ‘top notch copper’.

An ‘old school’ policeman with three decades experience, he was a hard drinking, dedicated man who developed a deep personal obsession with nailing the Ripper.

He worked 18-hour days and made a personal pledge to the parents of the sixth victim, Jayne MacDonald, that he would catch the killer.

His 200-strong ripper squad eventually carried out more than 130,000 interviews, visited more than 23,000 homes and checked 150,000 cars.

When the tape arrived it was a personal message to Oldfield, which said: ‘Lord, you are no nearer catching me now than four years ago when I started.

‘I reckon your boys are letting you down George. You can’t be much good can ya?’

Later the same year Oldfield had a heart attack at the age of 57, and was subsequently moved off the case.

He has been described by friends as ‘the Ripper’s 14th victim’.

With attention focused on suspects with a North East accent, the Ripper continued his killing spree and claimed his 13th and last murder victim, 21-year-old student Jacqueline Hill, late in 1980.

At that time police had a league table of suspects.

There were 26 in Division One – at the top was a completely innocent taxi driver who they tailed for months.

Some 200 names were in Division Two and 1,000 – including Sutcliffe – were in Division Three.

Then, in January 1981, police finally got some luck when Sutcliffe was arrested by officers in Sheffield, who stopped him with a prostitute in his brown Rover car.  

The car had false number plates and Sutcliffe’s name was passed on to the Ripper squad, where it came up on their index cards.

He had always denied any involvement with prostitutes in his previous interviews, and they decided to talk to him again.

When a £5 note was found in the pocket of 28-year-old Jean Jordan, in Manchester in 1977, police again failed to connect Sutcliffe. The note was traced to one of six companies, including Clark Transport, which employed Sutcliffe as a lorry driver

When a £5 note was found in the pocket of 28-year-old Jean Jordan, in Manchester in 1977, police again failed to connect Sutcliffe. The note was traced to one of six companies, including Clark Transport, which employed Sutcliffe as a lorry driver 

Detective Chief Superintendent Hobson replaced Oldfield in November 1980. He immediately downgraded the importance of the Wearside Jack tape and letters

Detective Superintendent P Gilrain with a poster appealing for witnesses after the murder of Barbara Leach

Detective Chief Superintendent Hobson (left) replaced Oldfield in November 1980. He immediately downgraded the importance of the Wearside Jack tape and letters. Pictured on the right is Detective Superintendent P Gilrain with a poster appealing for witnesses after the murder of Barbara Leach

Incredible forgiveness from son of Peter Sutcliffe’s first victim after he CALLS Ripper’s brother to offer his condolences over death

Richard McCann was only five when he lost his mother

Richard McCann was only five when he lost his mother 

The son of the Yorkshire Ripper’s first recognised victim said he reached out to the serial killer’s brother ‘to offer my condolences’ after hearing the news of his death.

Richard McCann was only five years old when his mother, Wilma McCann, was murdered in 1975.

He revealed he had been in touch with one of Peter Sutcliffe’s brothers, Carl, following the news that the murderer had died in prison on Friday.

Mr McCann told the BBC: ‘I gave him a call when I got the news to offer my condolences. Carl Sutcliffe reached out to me many years ago when he read about my journey – he reached out to me with compassion and I felt the same. I know he obviously did some horrendous things but he was still his brother so I felt like I wanted to call him.’

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The officers who went to Dewsbury police station to interview him looked at the car and found screwdrivers in the glove compartment.

The Sheffield officers, meanwhile, hearing Sutcliffe was a Ripper suspect, went back to the scene of his arrest and found a hammer and knife 50ft from where his car had been.

Sutcliffe had dumped the weapons when they allowed him to go to the toilet at the side of a building.

Police also visited Sutcliffe’s wife Sonia, who admitted he had not got home until 10pm on Bonfire Night, when a 16-year-old girl was attacked.

As the net closed, Sutcliffe suddenly and unexpectedly confessed. 

He calmly told Detective Inspector John Boyle, who was interviewing him : ‘It’s all right, I know what you’re leading up to. The Yorkshire Ripper. It’s me. I killed all those women.’

He then began a detailed confession lasting 24 hours, and asked for Sonia to be brought in so he could tell her personally that he was the Ripper.

Sutcliffe went on trial at the Old Bailey in May 1981, where he claimed he had been directed by God to kill prostitutes.

The jury had to decide whether, at the time of the killings, he believed he was carrying out a divine mission.

After lengthy deliberations they returned a 10-2 majority verdict of guilty and was jailed for life.

The case remains one of the most notorious of the last 100 years and the assessment of what went wrong in the investigation is still having an impact on major police inquiries to this day.

The Wearside Jack messages were finally, conclusively proved to be hoax nearly 30 years after they were sent when Sunderland alcoholic John Humble admitted perverting the course of justice and was jailed for eight years in 2006. 

The woman who stood by a monster: How Yorkshire Ripper’s ex-wife Sonia Sutcliffe remained married to him for nearly two decades and visited him in Broadmoor as recently as 2015 

Sonia Sutcliffe stood by her husband even after he was unmasked as one of the most notorious serial killers in British history.

Peter Sutcliffe died this morning at the age of 74 after refusing treatment for coronavirus.

But his wife of 20 years, school teacher Sonia, has never broken her silence to speak out about the man who butchered 13 women.

Sonia still lives in the home she shared with her ex-husband Peter in Bradford, West Yorkshire, while he murdered his victims.

Sonia Sutcliffe, pictured here in Leeds in 2018, has never broken her silence to speak out about the man who butchered 13 women

Sonia Sutcliffe, pictured here in Leeds in 2018, has never broken her silence to speak out about the man who butchered 13 women

How Sutcliffe’s horrors led to demands he be hanged – and he was nearly let out of jail due to ‘low risk of reoffending’  

Capital punishment was abolished in the UK in 1969, but the shocking extent of Sutcliffe’s crimes led to some calls for the penalty to be reintroduced. 

The Ripper was given 20 life terms for the murder of 13 women and attempted murder of seven others at the Old Bailey in 1981.

Later known as Peter Coonan, the former lorry driver, from Bradford, West Yorkshire, was recommended to serve a minimum of 30 years behind bars. But in 2005 it was reported Sutcliffe had written to the Home Office pleading to be set free.

Sutcliffe’s name was not on a Home Office list, published a year later, of 35 murderers serving ‘whole life’ sentences and he was given no formal minimum term – which is the least a prisoner must serve before becoming eligible to apply for release on parole.

In 2008, it emerged he was making a legal bid for freedom by claiming his human rights had been breached, with his lawyers set to argue the Home Office disregarded his human rights by failing to fix a tariff for his sentence.

At the time of his original sentencing, tariffs were decided by the Home Secretary, after receiving advice from the trial judge and the Lord Chief Justice.

The suggestion Sutcliffe could be released caused outrage. The husband of Olive Smelt, one of his surviving victims, said he wanted him to remain behind bars.

Speaking in 2009, Harry Smelt said: ‘He left 26 orphans, so how can anybody ever be punished for that adequately? The death sentence would have been too good for him. One just hopes that he rots in jail.’

Dr Kevin Murray, the psychiatrist who had been in charge of Sutcliffe’s care since 2001, said in a 2006 report that he now posed a ‘low risk of reoffending’.

It was on July 5 1975, just 11 months after his marriage, that he took a hammer and made his first attack on a woman.

Sutcliffe is said to have believed he was on a ‘mission from God’ to kill prostitutes – although not all of his victims were sex workers – and was dubbed the Yorkshire Ripper because he mutilated their bodies using a hammer, a sharpened screwdriver and a knife.

Mr Justice Mitting, at the High Court in London in 2010, ruled ‘early release provisions’ were ‘not to apply’. He added that the ‘appropriate term is a whole life term’.

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Sonia continued to visit her husband at Parkhurst prison and later at Broadmoor where he was transferred in 1984 due to his paranoid schizophrenia.

The pair ultimately divorced in 1994 after 20 years of marriage and in 1997 she remarried hairdresser Michael Woodward.

Sutcliffe, who gained infamy as the Yorkshire Ripper in the 1970s and 1980s, began his reign of terror after an argument with his wife in 1969.

Sutcliffe met Sonia after he got a job as a gravedigger at Bingley Cemetery in 1964.

He and work friends went drinking at the Royal Standard in Bradford’s red light district, and hung out in an area of the pub they dubbed ‘Gravediggers’ corner’.

It was at the bar that he met Sonia, the daughter of Ukrainian and Polish–born refugees, in 1966.

The year after Sonia and Peter got engaged, Sutcliffe’s brother spotted her being driven in a sports car by an Italian businessman.

After a furious argument, Sutcliffe picked up a prostitute that evening in Bradford in a bid to cheat on his then-wife.

Despite changing his mind at the last minute, he went on the claim the woman swindled him out of £5 – triggering a bitter hatred for the sex workers he then went on to murder over the next five years.

The pair patched things up and on August 10 1974, Sutcliffe married Sonia.

Less than a year later, the lorry driver picked up a hammer and began attacking women, two in Keighley and one in Halifax.

All three survived and police did not notice the similarities between the attacks.

The first fatality was Wilma McCann. The 28-year-old sex worker and mother-of-four was battered to death in the early hours of October 30 1975.

When the net closed in on Sutcliffe in 1981 and he confessed, he calmly told Detective Inspector John Boyle, who was interviewing him: ‘It’s all right, I know what you’re leading up to. The Yorkshire Ripper. It’s me. I killed all those women.’

He then began a detailed confession lasting 24 hours, and asked for Sonia to be brought in so he could tell her personally that he was the Ripper.

Sonia stayed by his side when was convicted of murders but has has not been seen at the prison since her visit to Broadmoor in December, 2015.

She remarried hairdresser Michael Woodward in 1997, and was last photographed seen out and about in 2018.

In 2015, Sonia told the Sun on Sunday: ‘People have claimed to have interviewed me when the truth is they have not. There have been a lot of bad things written about me and they are not accurate.

‘I would like the truth to come out one day but I am afraid to be extremely busy for the next two or three years. I have commitments I cannot get out of. I do not want to say what they are.

‘One day I might do something but I don’t want to get your hopes up that is going to happen now.’ 

Sutcliffe pictured at his father's home with his wife Sonia in late 1980 in the midst of his killing spree

Sutcliffe pictured at his father’s home with his wife Sonia in late 1980 in the midst of his killing spree 

In 2015, Sutcliffe complained that he missed ‘his Sonia’ and claimed her new husband was ‘jealous’ of their friendship and preventing her from visiting him behind bars.

Earlier this year, Sutcliffe ‘sent a Valentine’s card to Sonia and asked if she would visit him in prison’ because he was ‘in bits’ that he may never see her again.

In February Sutcliffe asked prison bosses to set up a video call to his ex-wife at HMP Frankland in County Durham.

He had told his friends about the ‘Sonia problem’, a source told the Sun on Sunday, as he ‘desperately tried to find a way through’ missing her.

Sources said he ‘tends to mope around and complain’ about the potential of never seeing his ex-wife before he dies.

‘But it is a wonder than she is in touch with him at all, or in fact that anyone is’, the source added.

The Ripper had reportedly asked a Frankland governor to persuade Sonia to visit as prisoners are banned from making video calls to potential visitors.  

THE YORKSHIRE RIPPER’S REIGN OF TERROR: A TIMELINE OF HIS MURDERS 

Photograph of Peter Sutcliffe an English serial killer who was dubbed the 'Yorkshire Ripper' by the press

Photograph of Peter Sutcliffe an English serial killer who was dubbed the ‘Yorkshire Ripper’ by the press

 Sutcliffe, who lived in Bradford, West Yorkshire, believed he was on a ‘mission from God’ to kill prostitutes, although not all his victims were.

His other victims, aged between 16 and 47, included two university students, a civil servant, a bank clerk and a supermarket worker.

Sutcliffe was dubbed the Yorkshire Ripper because he mutilated his victims using a screw driver, hammer and knife.

He was also convicted of seven counts of attempted murder in and around Yorkshire, Lancashire and Greater Manchester.

Timeline:

Summer 1975: Peter Sutcliffe begins attacking women, two in Keighley and one in Halifax. All three survive and police do not link the attacks.

30 October 1975: Sutcliffe carries out his first fatal attack on Wilma McCann, a 28-year-old prostitute from the Chapeltown district of Leeds.

20 January 1976: He murders Emily Jackson, 42, from Leeds, battering her with a hammer and stabbing her with a screwdriver.

5 February 1977: He kills Irene Richardson, 28, another prostitute from Leeds.

23 April 1977: Sutcliffe strikes for the first time in his home town of Bradford, murdering 32-year-old Patricia Atkinson.

26 June 1977: The case comes to the attention of the national press after Sutcliffe murders Jayne MacDonald, a 16-year-old shop assistant. The murder, and the realisation that a serial killer is on the loose in Yorkshire, shocks the country.

The attacker is dubbed the Yorkshire Ripper by the press, and West Yorkshire Chief Constable Ronald Gregory appoints his most senior detective, Assistant Chief Constable George Oldfield, to investigate the murders.

1 October 1977: Sutcliffe chooses Manchester for his next attack – on Jean Jordan, 20. He dumps her body on an allotment and throws her bag, containing a brand new £5 note he gave her, into nearby shrubs.

Police find the bag and trace the serial number on the note back to the payroll of Yorkshire hauliers T and W H Clark, who employ Peter Sutcliffe.

Sutcliffe is interviewed by police but provides an alibi placing him at a party.

21 January to 16 May 1978: Sutcliffe murders three prostitutes – Yvonne Pearson, 21, from Bradford; Helen Rytka, 18, from Huddersfield, and 40-year-old Vera Millward from Manchester.

4 April 1979: Sutcliffe kills Halifax Building Society clerk Josephine Whitaker, 19.

June 1979: A tape is sent to police by a man calling himself Jack the Ripper, who has already sent a series of hand-written letters from Sunderland. Assistant Chief Constable Oldfield mistakenly decides that these are the work of the Ripper. Wearside Jack, as he becomes known, is pinpointed to the Castletown district of Sunderland by voice experts. Detectives are told they can discount suspects who do not have a Wearside accent.

July 1979: Police interview Sutcliffe for the fifth time. Detective Constables Andrew Laptew and Graham Greenwood are suspicious but their report is filed because his voice and handwriting do not fit the letters and tape.

Officers carry out a fingertip search on an area of waste ground as part of the Ripper investigation in 1979. The probe dominated the nation's consciousness for years

Officers carry out a fingertip search on an area of waste ground as part of the Ripper investigation in 1979. The probe dominated the nation’s consciousness for years 

2 September 1979: Sutcliffe murders Barbara Leach, 20, in Bradford.

2 October 1979: A £1million campaign is launched to catch the Yorkshire Ripper.

20 August 1980: The Ripper claims another victim, Marguerite Walls, 47, from Leeds, followed by Jacqueline Hill, 20, a Leeds University student, on November 17.

November 1980: Detective Chief Superintendent James Hobson replaces Oldfield. Hobson downgrades the importance of the Wearside Jack tape and letters.

3 January 1981: Sutcliffe admits he is the Yorkshire Ripper after police arrest him with a prostitute. Police admit the killer does not have a Wearside accent. 

22 May 1981: Sutcliffe is jailed for life at the Old Bailey. The judge recommends a minimum sentence of 30 years. He is transferred to Broadmoor secure hospital in Berkshire in 1984.

24 May 1989: Wife of Sutcliffe wins damages.

21 March 2006: John Humble, a former builder, is sentenced to eight years in prison after he admits to being the Yorkshire Ripper hoaxer known as Wearside Jack.

1 June 2006: A report which has been kept secret for nearly 25 years reveals that Sutcliffe probably committed more crimes than the 13 murders and seven attempted murders for which he was convicted. 

April 2017: Sutcliffe is questioned by police officers over 17 unsolved cases that bear similarities to his past crimes. He is not being investigated over any murders and it is unknown which of the incidents police think are linked to the serial killer. 

May 2017: Sutcliffe is investigated over the murders of two women in Sweden. Detectives are said to have enquired about the murders of a 31-year-old woman found dead in Gothenburg in August 1980, and a 26-year-old woman found dead in Malmo a month later. Both bodies were found on building sites. 

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