Ripper to spend rest of his life behind bars

Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe must spend the rest of his life behind bars, the British High Court ruled today.

Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe must spend the rest of his life behind bars, the British High Court ruled today.

The decision was announced by Mr Justice Mitting, sitting in London.

Now known as Peter Coonan, the 63-year-old former lorry driver, from Bradford, West Yorkshire in England, was convicted at the Old Bailey in 1981.

He received 20 life terms for the murder of 13 women and the attempted murder of seven others in Yorkshire and Greater Manchester.

The judge ruled that “early release provisions” were “not to apply”.

Mr Justice Mitting said he had read statements by relatives of six murdered victims.

“They are each moving accounts of the great loss and widespread and permanent harm to the living caused by six of his crimes. I have no doubt that they are representative of the unspoken accounts of others who have not made statements.

“None of them suggest any term other than a whole life term would be regarded by them as appropriate.”

Richard McCann, whose mother was murdered by the Ripper, said he supported the decision.

He told Sky News: “I’m relieved with the judgment and quite emotional hearing it but relieved is probably what would describe the way I’m feeling right now.

“Some doctors might say that he’s a low risk but the very fact there is any risk at all would suggest that he shouldn’t be released but I don’t think that comes into it.

“I think what comes into it is what he did, the impact he had on the families of the women that died and those that survived, the lifelong impact.”

Mr Justice Mitting said: "This was a campaign of murder which terrorised the population of a large part of Yorkshire for several years.

“The only explanation for it, on the jury’s verdict, was anger, hatred and obsession. Apart from a terrorist outrage, it is difficult to conceive of circumstances in which one man could account for so many victims.

“Those circumstances alone make it appropriate to set a whole life term.”

A judge had recommended Sutcliffe serve a minimum of 30 years behind bars. His name was not on a Home Office list, published in 2006, 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.

He is currently being held in Broadmoor top security psychiatric hospital after being transferred from prison in 1984 suffering from paranoid schizophrenia.

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.

He spent nearly all of his years in custody at Broadmoor after being diagnosed as mentally ill, but refused treatment until 1993 when the Mental Health Commission ruled it should be given forcibly.

A judge recently refused to allow fresh psychiatric evidence to be admitted as part of the tariff-setting exercise, although he said it could be considered in relation to his conduct post-sentence.

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