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Yorkshire Ripper loses appeal over sentence ruling

Peter Sutcliffe, sentenced to 20 life sentences in 1981, has failed in his bid to overturn ruling saying he should never be released from prison.

PA file photo of Peter Sutcliffe dated 1 December, 1980.
PA file photo of Peter Sutcliffe dated 1 December, 1980.
Image: S&G/S&G Barratts/EMPICS Archive

YORKSHIRE RIPPER PETER SUTCLIFFE has lost his appeal over a court ruling saying he should never be released from prison, meaning he will spend the rest of his life there.

Sutcliffe, now 64, was convicted in 1981 of murdering 13 women and attempting to murder seven others between 1975 and 1980. He received 20 life sentences, the PA reports.

He had claimed he was acting on a “mission from God” to kill prostitutes, though not all of his victims were prostitutes.

The Lord Chief Justice, one of the three judges who rejected Sutcliffe’s appeal today, said that the panel was not suggesting “that the man who perpetrated these crimes was in any ordinary sense of the words ‘normal’ or ‘average’, and added:

There is, however, no reason to conclude that the appellant’s claim that he genuinely believed that he was acting under divine instruction to fulfill God’s will carries any greater conviction now than it did when it was rejected by the jury.

He said that the “interests of justice require nothing less than a whole-life order. That is the only available punishment proportionate to these crimes.”

The BBC reports that Sutcliffe is detained at Broadmoor psychiatric hospital after being transferred there in the early 80s, suffering from paranoid schizophrenia.

The ruling he should spend his life in prison and never be released was made last year under 2003 legislation permitting judges to set tariffs for murders, according to the Guardian.

Sutcliffe attacked his first victim with a hammer on 5 July 1975. He was arrested for having false number plates on his car and was subsequently questioned by police regarding the ripper murders as he matched a number of the attacker’s characteristics.

Police had been led on a wild goose chase during their investigations by tapes and letters sent by people claiming to be the Yorkshire Ripper, such as this one from a man dubbed “Wearside Jack” who was subsequently imprisoned for perverting the course of justice:

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