TRANSCRIPT - The Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe (AKA Peter Coonan)

[Music]This podcast contains descriptions of death and violence that some listeners may find upsetting. Hello and welcome to the Six O’clock Knock the true crime podcast that re-examines historical cases through a modern lens I’m Simon Ford a writer journalist and broadcaster and I’m Jacques Morrell an author and former major crime detective in case you're wondering the Six O’clock Knock is police jargon for a dawn raid 6 am being the time a suspect is most likely to be at home and off guard it's the time when we make an arrest on our terms it could be a knock at the door or sometimes we'd go in with a sledgehammer or a battering ram we used to call that the enforcer in this podcast we're going back to the 1970s and a series of murders and attacks on women that transfixed the north of England the perpetrator was one Peter William Sutcliffe or to give him the title chillingly bestowed on him by the press at the time the Yorkshire Ripper when Paul’s teacher asked him about his three favourite things the ten-year-old would say Leeds united David Bowie and going on round with our Alan this Thursday morning Paul was in his element cramming a doorstep jam buddy into his mouth and wrapped up against the autumn chill he was riding shotgun on Alan's milk float never mind that Leeds had lost to Manchester united last Saturday never mind that Art Garfunkel was keeping David Bowie off number one he was Starsky and Alan was Hutch the electric float hummed down Scott Hall Avenue the empty milk bottles jingling like sleigh bells Alan slowed to take the right turn into the Prince Phillip playing fields it was hard to see in the fog and the milk floats headlights dimmed unpredictably Alan stopped outside the caretaker's house lit an embassy and jumped out Paul clambered down beside him hoping the caretaker might say hey up and slip him a packet of sweet cigarettes the red-tipped candy sticks were a treat but Paul was collecting the football cards inside he was desperate to get his idol Leeds midfield hotshot Peter lorimer it was then he noticed something on the grass someone's left a guy out he shouted dashing into the mist shh hissed Alan how many bloody times it was twenty to eight Paul ran over to where the object was lying anticipating a Guy Fawkes effigy like the ones his mates touted round the back streets before bonfire night then he came racing back Alan noticed his expression had changed something made the older brother freeze the bones of Paul's face had rearranged themselves to make room for two enormous eyes it's a body was all he said [Music] the dead woman was Wilma McCann she was 28 and mom to four children all under nine she was the first woman killed by the Yorkshire Ripper although there had been three other assaults on women earlier that year which bore the hallmarks of Wilma's murder crushing blows to the head with a hammer in addition Wilma had been stabbed in the chest and throat there's no memorial to the victims of the Yorkshire Ripper but there should be between October 1975 and November 1980 Sutcliffe murdered 13 women in Leeds Bradford Huddersfield and Manchester he attacked a further seven women who survived but who bore the scars mental and physical for the rest of their lives to say nothing of the families devastated by Sutcliffe he said he targeted sex workers some of his victims were others were not when he was caught Sutcliffe seemed to be attacking women in general his victims did have one thing in common they were all alone vulnerable and unable to defend themselves before we get into it here are the names of the women who died and those we know who survived the first to be murdered was Wilma McCann then Emily Jackson Irene Richardson Patricia Atkinson Jane MacDonald Jean Jordan also known as Jean Royal Yvonne Pearson Helen Rytka Vera Millward Josephine Whittaker Barbara Leach Marguerite Walls and Jacqueline Hill the victims who survived include Anna Rogulskyj Olive Smelt Tracey Brown Marcella Claxton Maureen Long and Marilyn Moore we've decided not to dwell on Sutcliffe's crimes the failure of the police to catch him is well documented first and foremost in the Byford report commissioned in the immediate aftermath of the investigation it was excoriating instead we're going to look at the lessons learned from the Ripper's five-year reign of terror and how they've helped shape modern policing here in the united kingdom the improvements that have been made and we're going to pose the question in the spirit of the Six O’clock Knock how would a modern investigative team approach the inquiry at its key stages [Music] we know that Sutcliffe was interviewed nine times by the police but somehow managed to evade the dragnet in the words of one detective Chris Gregg we had the fly on the flypaper why was Sutcliffe allowed to go free; free to kill again on multiple occasions Jacques I’m wondering when you joined the police in the 1980s was the Yorkshire Ripper mentioned at training college for example and if so what did people say I don't remember much being said by colleagues about the case I worked in the midlands and my training was in Coventry the Yorkshire Ripper case certainly hadn't found its way into the police training manuals although by the time I worked on my first murder case there had been changes to the incident room procedures I also joined in 1985 when the police and criminal evidence act was new I guess that what I’m trying to say here is the outdated attitudes of 1970s policing was changing the way murder squads were formed though still meant it was potluck how good those senior detectives were going to be the families of murder victims should get a golden service every time in 1970s Yorkshire this was still a long way off [Music] a working man's weekly wage in 1977 was about 50 pounds a little over 400 pounds in today's money which meant the crisp new fiver Peter Sutcliffe paid Jean Jordan for sex that October Saturday night would be worth about 40 quid in 2020. Little did Jean who also used the surname royal know she was about to become the fifth woman to be killed by the Ripper Sutcliffe had chosen Manchester because as he later told police things were hotting up a bit in Leeds and Bradford on wasteland near to Manchester's southern cemetery Sutcliffe smashed Jean ten times over the head with a hammer but he was disturbed by a courting couple hid her body and fled the scene [Music] later he realized the brand new five-pound note could be traced back to his pay packet so the next weekend Sutcliffe slipped away from a family party and returned to the scene of the crime when his search for the incriminating banknote proved fruitless he directed his rage at Jean Jordan's body stabbing wildly he found a broken pane of glass and slashed open the stomach of the week old corpse the stench he later told detectives made him vomit then in an attempt to confuse his pursuers he tried unsuccessfully to sever the head with a hacksaw tony fletcher one of the first investigators on the scene thought some ghoul had dug up a body from the nearby cemetery but an examination of the injuries provided an even more shocking explanation the woman's half-severed head was pulped and her face unrecognizable she'd been intimately mutilated with a 10-inch sharpened screwdriver described at Sutcliffe’s trial as a most wicked agent a coil of intestine was wound around her waist her clothes and belongings had been strewn over the surrounding area as if a pack of animals had been at work in fact it was the work of just one animal Peter Sutcliffe Manchester CID had a Ripper murder on their hands on the 15th of October two weeks after the murder an allotment holder came across Jean Jordan's handbag in it was the fiver the banknote which both Peter Sutcliffe and the Ripper inquiry knew could be used to trace him down via his employer Clarke’s haulage Sutcliffe later told police I read about the note being traced to a Shipley bank I knew Clark’s got the wage money from a Shipley bank and that a local inquiry would be made and by some miracle I escaped the dragnet Jacques was it a miracle that Sutcliffe wasn't detected at this point it's difficult to say how close they were but in 1977 they had their best chance to catch him in that year there were four murders three in west Yorkshire and the one we described in Manchester there was a really good line of inquiry in the first murder that year they had officially confirmed they had a serial killer the west Yorkshire chief constable appointed his most senior detective assistant chief constable George Oldfield and more significant if not ironic it was the Manchester murder that produced the best opportunity to date the Manchester team knew they were onto something the five-pound note had been part of a delivery of new notes from the bank of England to Leeds just four days before Jean Jordan's murder the chances of a brand new note finding its way from west Yorkshire into her handbag in Manchester meant that if they could trace who the note was issued to they had a suspect detectives followed the trail of the note to the payrolls of local firms in those days companies paid their staff in cash producing individual wage packets one of these local firms was the haulage company called Clarke’s with the investigation leading back to west Yorkshire the Manchester detectives made daily trips over the Pennines those mountains separating Yorkshire from Lancashire the head of Manchester CID was now working with George Oldfield in Leeds however the two incident rooms were using different processes they were misaligned did the Manchester case play second fiddle to the others in west Yorkshire let's see eventually on the 2nd of November a west Yorkshire detective and his counterpart from Manchester called at six garden lane Heaton the address of one of the employees at Clarke's haulage a man named Peter Sutcliffe the lorry driver and his wife were at home Sonja Sutcliffe confirmed her husband's story that he'd been at home on Saturday the 1st of October and that they'd held a housewarming party the following Sunday Peter had she said taken some of his relatives home by car and had been gone some time and with weeks having elapsed none of the original notes from his October pay packet were in his possession Sutcliffe's mother appeared to confirm his alibi for the 9th of October what the detectives didn't appear to have done was ascertain whether Sutcliffe had access to a car the killer was strongly believed to use a car when committing his attacks it transpired that Sutcliffe owned a red Ford Corsair and had previously owned a white one so Jacques these detectives are specifically asking about Sutcliffe's wage packet and where he was on the night of the Manchester murder Jean royal's murder would they have gone any further of course they would or should assuming those detectives had been briefed correctly they would know about the photo fit images of the suspect they would know about the other cases they would know the importance of vehicles nowadays detectives use a particular form when they trace people during major inquiries it's called a person descriptive form known as a pdf it's used to record a quick summary of each person their physical description their accent anything distinctive about them it also includes a section for any vehicles they have access to and the form also asks specifically whether the detective has seen the vehicle or not now this is important as some cars may have been modified or have a different colour right so whether this pdf form existed then detectives would still be asking the same kind of questions and I suppose making a note of everything precisely otherwise why send two detectives I don't want to sound flippant but you could save time and money by simply sending a letter dear Mr Sutcliffe can you tell us whether you still have some of the wages paid to you on the 5th of October remember all those inquiries around the 5-pound note was to trace interview and eliminate right I take your point but it's clear that they didn't check Sutcliffe's car if they had they might have found a hammer in the boot they didn't search the house if they had they might have found a hacksaw in the garage but it wouldn't have aroused suspicion because nobody beyond the commanding officers knew about the attempt to sever Jean Jordan's head they kept that fact back Jacques why would they do that I’m not too concerned about that fact being kept back details like that were often withheld from within an incident room as well as from the media don't forget that in those days too the police spoke to the media more informally in pubs and golf clubs loose talk was a problem what concerns me most about this knock on Peter Sutcliffe's door regarding the five pound node was that it seemed to have been just that it was never going to be a search of his car or the house however what it should have been was an opportunity to identify him as a potential suspect I’m not sure what the policy was for tracing interviewing and eliminating people from the inquiry but you would have hoped that the SIO had made the policy very clear everyone on the investigation should have known the profile of the suspect appearance accent vehicle lifestyle familiarity with locations all these categories are standard the detectives who spoke to Sutcliffe on that day did they note that he was dark-haired had a beard and a moustache and spoke with a Yorkshire accent because those victims that survived his attacks did just that and the man sat at home on the 2nd of November answering questions from the police he fitted that profile exactly on the 5th of February 1977 eight months before he killed Jean Jordan Sutcliffe murdered Irene Richardson in Leeds he left her body on soldier's field at the edge of round hey park where it was discovered by a jogger out for a Sunday morning run near the body there was an important clue tyre tracks the killer had driven his car onto the soft ground of soldiers field the police were able to identify the brand of tyre as being India Autoway they'd fit 51 different vehicles including the Ford Corsair the model owned by Sutcliffe the police drew up a list of 53 000 registered owners of 51 different vehicle models living in the west Yorkshire metropolitan area they checked 33 000 by the time the operation was called off in july 1977. Peter Sutcliffe's car was among the 20 000 still to be checked in November 1977 when the Manchester detectives went to Sutcliffe's house for all we know the Ford Corsair could have been parked outside but by then the team had been told to forget about tracing the India Autoway tyres the amount of time it had taken the sheer scale of it meant that tyres could have been worn out and changed cars sold vehicles scrapped the clock was against the Ripper squad and after the murder of Maureen Long that July George Oldfield had pulled the plug on the tyre tracking inquiry it wasn't simply bad luck or incompetence dogged police work dragged Sutcliffe into the frame repeatedly over the years he was interviewed no fewer than nine times in connection with the killings and released each time Jacques how would detectives like yourself approach the tyre tracing inquiry nowadays and how would it be integrated into the rest of the investigation I don't personally recall a case that had tyre track evidence as the crucial lead where we had tyre tracks it was usually supplementary evidence that supported the main case I guess the equivalent in today's world would be a CCTV image of a distant vehicle where the make and model was not certain a grainy image of a dark hatchback under sodium street lights finding one of those is a huge task as daunting as the India Autoway tyre inquiry was it may have been easier to have concentrated on finding what records there were about the tyres manufacturer and distribution physically checking all cars of a certain make and model was like trying to find the proverbial needle in a haystack record keeping was different then that said the manual indexing system of 1977 could still do the same thing as computers do now the point you made about Sutcliffe's car being in that list of 53 000 it makes that visit to him in November even more frustrating the tyre project may have been put on hold but the interesting cause hadn't yeah I agree two of the murders in 1977 provided a big opportunity to catch him the opportunity was missed and Sutcliffe would go on to kill again seven times in January 1981 Sutcliffe was arrested in Sheffield south Yorkshire there was a sex worker in his car with him and there's little doubt that Olivia Rivas was set to be his next victim in a dramatic turn of events due to what the arresting officers called straightforward coppering Sutcliffe soon confessed to being the Ripper his luck had run out and it was almost as though he had enough we're going to step outside the timeline and jump ahead to 1982 and the completion by the chief inspector of constabulary Lawrence Byford of a report into the Yorkshire Ripper inquiry it exposed incompetence and institutionalized failings at the highest levels of the west Yorkshire force the home secretary William Whitelaw told parliament it is apparent from the report that there are major errors of judgment by the police with hindsight it is now clear that if these errors and inefficiencies had not occurred sadly it would have been identified as a prime suspect sooner than he was but when the recriminations were over Byford’s report went on to make recommendations that laid the foundations of British policing as we know it today these lessons learned were echoed in an internal review of the investigation carried out by the deputy chief constable of Nottinghamshire Colin Samson in fact Samson took over as chief constable of west Yorkshire in 1983. here's what between them the Byford and Samson reports recommended first and foremost there must be standard procedures for major incident rooms keeping all the investigators on the same page the most important document for the senior investigating officer is the policy book it contains a chronological record of those big decisions it makes the s I o pause and think about the reasons for every change in direction it also helps them to get their message across to everyone working on the investigation second computers that provided a simple and effective means of handling information the Ripper inquiry had been swamped with data in fact the sheer amount of evidence became a burden rather than an advantage in the end there was so much paperwork that the floor of the Ripper incident room at Leeds central police station Milgarth was reinforced to take the weight computers were limited in use when I joined in 1985. we had the police national computer the PNC for vehicle and criminal convictions intelligence and crime reports were manual documents they were indexed by someone known as the collator using a filing system of postcard sized cards all cross-referenced with other records the data was there but retrieving it was more laborious and time consuming it also relied on the diligence of the person making the check there was also the risk of a card going missing or being misfiled by the time of my first murder investigation in 1989 a new system was in use for the larger investigations it was called homes home office large major inquiry system Michael Bilton in his book Wicked Beyond Belief claims had the Ripper squad had a system only half as capable as Holmes it would certainly have cracked the investigation in 1977. Bilton thinks that Holmes would have allowed the Ripper squad to cross-reference the new five-pound note found in Jean Jordan's handbag with owners of cars fitted with India Autoway tyres and Sutcliffe’s name would have come up what do you think Jacques the home system is great don't get me wrong but it still needs the right decisions being made the indexing policy and the management of the inquiry teams they're still critical decisions if the Ripper system had been up to date with the indexing maybe the point is I suppose when the Manchester detective spoke to Sutcliffe what was already known about him what did the incident room have recorded about him more importantly had the detectives check this before knocking on his door Byford’s next recommendation a command centre to coordinate the fight against related crimes in different force areas management training for senior investigating officers to make them better at conducting large-scale enquiries next a national advisory team of the best brains to be called on during major series crimes investigations this was the birth of the national crime agency it started life as the national crime faculty known as the NCF in 1995 and it brought together some of the brightest minds and created a centre of excellence now used regularly by senior investigators across Britain just as significant was the recognition within the police service that crime investigation is a high-grade intellectual pursuit there were no more Robert Fabians of the Yard acting on gut instinct detective work was now a science not an art and lastly better relations with the media to help them report and comment responsibly and to leverage the potential for getting witnesses to come forward police are asking for witnesses to come forward you know I’ve lost the number of times Jacques I use that as a payoff line in a crime report and at a national level there was the BBC tv Crimewatch programme which ran from 1984 all the way to 2017. within a year of the Byford report the new rules were being tested the hunt for cop killer Barry Prudham involved three different forces within three weeks a centralized command team with a jury rigged computer system had tracked him down there was an armed siege prudent evaded justice by turning a shotgun on himself there were still rough edges though but Byford’s big crime blueprint worked it was refined throughout the 80s and came of age during the investigation into the bombing of pan am flight 103 over Lockerbie Scotland in 1988 the jewel in the crown turned out to be the home's computer which was able to link not only UK forces but connected Scotland Yard in London with the FBI in Washington and the west German police in Frankfurt 270 people had died and when the bomber Abdelbasset al-Megrahi was brought to account there was an air of grim satisfaction so what happened to the relationship between the police and the media was it all tip-offs over a pint in the dog and gun one week and a referral to the press office the next you know I first experienced interforce cooperation in action during the hunt for the killer of elite teenager Julie Dart in July 1991 Michael Sams kidnapped her in the red light district of Leeds and then drove the 18 year old to his lockup in Newark Nottinghamshire where he kept her hostage in a coffin-like box Sams demanded a ransom and when Julie broke out of the box he murdered her with a hammer and then dumped her body in a field in Lincolnshire in January 1992 Sams struck again kidnapping an estate agent Stephanie Slater in Birmingham he kept her for eight days in a wheelie bin again he demanded a ransom but the net was closing Sams ex-wife recognized his voice on a recording played during a tv appeal yes that crime watch program we were talking about just now the game was up Sams got the Six O’clock Knock and subsequently life in prison while Stephanie Slater got to taste the sweet air of freedom I was a journalist in Leeds at the time where I met and interviewed Julie Dart’s mum on a number of occasions she remembered the Yorkshire Ripper's reign of terror I could see the fear in her eyes when his name was mentioned but the police were marching to a different tune than George Oldfield’s 1970s Ripper squad under detective chief inspector Bob Taylor they used the procedures recommended by Byford and Samson a central control room an overall commander this was Bob computerized data handling and tracing cooperation and coordination between four forces when Sams kidnapped Ms slater it was only a matter of time before he fell into Bob Taylor’s sights it was one hell of a knock when officers from the joint task force raided Sams home and lock up and from a journalist's point of view west Yorkshire police had agreed a national news blackout in the week leading up to the arrest we all knew the consequences of breaking the embargo would be severe although we didn't know the exact detail of what was at stake but we co-operated because of the excellent relations and communication between the police and the newspapers tv and radio the relationship was a direct result of Byford and Samson's work on the afternoon of Sams conviction I got a call from Bob Taylor and walked the hundred yards or so from my office in Wakefield to the police station in wood street upstairs the party was in full swing with whiskey being poured into any suitable receptacle Taylor was the boss but the spirit of the interview before the um spirits took effect was that this was a combined success Sams had been taken off the street not by the genius of one detective but by the skills and diligence of many an orchestra under the baton of a conductor or as I recall Taylor calling it when the tape stopped rolling a bloody great result for the team today's detectives have the almost limitless resource of the internet at their disposal smartphones and connected devices give them the ability to track offenders and locate the missing that's not to ignore the civil liberties and privacy issues involved but GPS data has allowed the police to snare dangerous people and put them behind bars for a long time evidence from the use of smartphones has become more and more part of crime investigation there are teams of people trying to deal with just that which phone number to concentrate on is a question once we've established that can we establish where the handset was at a crucial time having done this we've still not proven anything until we know who was actually using it those burner phones are a headache that's where we often need a bit of CCTV to put the person at a location where the mysterious burner phone was used the problem for police is that phone data evidence may take months to evaluate no use trying to get CCTV then it all needs some good decisions by detectives and a bit of luck [Music] let's go back in time to the mid-1970s what was happening that could explain not so much Peter Sutcliffe's state of mind but why he was able to pick off victims with impunity this was a period of social unrest and economic upheaval the oil crisis of 1973 derailed the big western economies in Britain that meant recession strikes and the three-day week coal steel textiles and engineering the mainstays of Yorkshire's economy were hit hard even when the recession ended officially Britain’s economy was at a standstill inflation was running at more than 24 percent unemployment was four percent and rising this was a period of stagflation people in Leeds and Bradford counted themselves lucky to have jobs if they did their wage package bought less because of the high inflation rate and the most economically vulnerable were those like Wilma McCann doing all she could to provide for her kids single-handed I bet nearly all the sex workers in chapel town would have told a similar story many others felt they had little choice other than to sell their bodies in contrast Sutcliffe sailed above his victims in terms of economic security he and his wife both had jobs I think Sonja worked part-time and they had no children to support they owned a home in a respectable and inverted commerce neighbourhood Sutcliffe could afford to run a car at one point two cars and so these disadvantaged women became his prey and they were abundant take the tragic case of Emily Jackson the family roofing business was in dire straits and Emily with her husband Sid's agreement had been using the works van for soliciting on the night in January 1976 that Sutcliffe murdered Emily Sid sat nursing a pint in the gaiety pub on round hay road listening to music and waiting for her to come back it's hard to imagine being that desperate but I suppose Jacques it's something you've come across street prostitution was still at its peak in the late 1980s all cities had areas where it was visible women on street corners openly soliciting for the purposes of prostitution it would have been easy to see when the number of women working went up on top of that many of the sex workers would complain to us about it they were protective of their beat and they were protective of their incomes as local police officers we would get to know them we would deal with them on a daily basis usually with a warning we had to police it but there was always a balance to be found we just about managed the situation I suppose you're right though more women are tempted when the money is tight at its most basic level women will take risks in order to feed themselves and their families the welfare state helped to relieve poverty in the 70s but like today the safety net didn't catch everyone sex workers could work hours to suit their circumstances when the children were safely tucked up in bed some of course were coerced into it [Music] let's talk about sex people who sell sex and attitudes to sex workers at the time it felt as if the Ripper squad blamed the prostitutes they were in George Oldfield’s words ladies of the street and that was when he was being polite on camera I imagine he dropped the euphemisms when the tv crews left on the flip side suckless victims who weren't prostitutes sixteen-year-old Jane MacDonald is a prime example they were identified as innocent and respectable at the time the press called the school leavers slaying a tragic mistake a lot has changed in society's attitude to people who the law calls street prostitutes I think the police and the courts were standard-bearers in this nowadays in England the overall approach to prostitution focuses on the prosecution of those who force others onto the game those who exploit abuse and harm them now we're not saying that male chauvinism has been banished from the police less still from society at large and the irony is not lost in us that we are two men having a conversation about dead women one thing that's become apparent in the years since the Yorkshire Ripper inquiry is the attitude of the police and society generally to women sex workers you know I’ll never forget the archive clipper the copper in Lisa Williams’ documentary series the Yorkshire Ripper files when he says we can't cater for the killing of the odd female at any time it wasn't just sex workers lives that were worth less it was women's lives in genera; if some daft dolly daydream goes and gets herself whacked over the head with a hammer that's her lookout kind of thing try telling that to Wilf MacDonald he identified his daughter's body his wife told local tv afterwards he said he'd seen everything in the war but nothing like that the phrase loose morals was banded around by officers describing some victims like olive smelt who'd survived the reign of hammer blows in olive's case loose morals constituted going to the pub without her husband yeah and Sid Jackson was at pains to point out to the Ripper squad that his murdered wife Emily might be selling sex to keep the family firm afloat but she never went to the pub without him she was not a woman of loose morals also as the investigation degenerated into a contest of good versus evil between the Ripper squad on one hand and the Ripper on the other women became pawns in their testosterone-fuelled contest it was symptomatic of how chauvinism and prejudice hampered the whole inquiry in the binary caricature-driven parallel universe of the Ripper incident room the lives of some women were simply worth less than others in chapel town Manningham and moss side everyone knew a sex worker's blood was as red as anyone else's their pain as great their orphaned children just as bereft Jacques what about the part played by women police officers then and now I’ve heard a few stories from female colleagues over the years how they were chosen for specific tasks that would now be considered demeaning female officers at the time of the Ripper investigation had little to do with the actual detective work they were a bridge between the inquiry and social services such as dealing with Wilma McCann’s four young children at least one was used to pose as a sex worker as bait for the Ripper but most were restricted to clerical roles in the incident room now that's not to diminish what they did there they were the unsung heroes who catalogued indexed and cross-referenced 650 documents in over five years today there are many more women in the police but they're still outnumbered by their male counterparts the UK force with the most women has something like 37 percent female officers London’s metropolitan police is about 28 the shifting demographic does as I said help change attitudes in wider society the met has its first woman commissioner Dame Cressida Dick I’m sure that she would be the first to agree that all human life is respectable now this leads me to something of a philosophical dilemma because if all human life is worthy of respect where does that leave Peter Sutcliffe what respect if any does he deserve Great Britain abolished the death penalty for murder in 1965. That's the year before I was born the evidence showed that the threat of being hanged didn't affect the murder rate killing the killer was simply social retribution the Yorkshire Ripper sparked a passionate debate about restoring the death penalty you remember the graffiti Scott Hall says hang the Ripper and that placard outside Dewsbury magistrates court the Ripper is a coward hang him yeah and apart from the horrors he inflicted on his immediate victims Sutcliffe destroyed the lives of countless others take Wilf MacDonald the father of 16 year old school leaver Jane he died of a broken heart in a gut-wrenching tv interview he said the Ripper had murdered his whole family their lives were just consumed by grief we're in the National Justice Museum's capital punishment exhibition the sign over the door says the items on display might not be suitable for all and here is a chest of equipment used by Albert Pierpoint who was Britain’s last hangman there's a rope and of course a noose and various pseudo-medical looking pieces of equipment presumably to measure the drop and that sort of thing Pierpoint would take that noose with him on his travels he would then attach it to a longer rope at each gallows after the execution he would remove it ready for the next one he would store it in this unprepossessing crate along with various restraints and pseudo-medical looking instruments until the next time well let's just walk through here because there's a recreation of the condemned cell through this archway and this is effectively the waiting room between this world and whatever depending what you believe if anything lies beyond we've got a metal bedstead here on wheels bit like a hospital bed and we've got this old-fashioned school room desk and chair all feels rather incongruous does society need the sanction of retribution the right with robust checks and balances to take the life of the worst offenders of which Sutcliffe is one call it vengeance call it retribution the moment passed long ago but a long drop on a short rope like the one through there might have given the victims’ families some closure and prevented nearly 30 years of tabloid shenanigans around Sutcliffe's incarcerated lifestyle another debate that's raged since Sutcliffe's arrest is whether he's a sadistic animal or suffering from mental illness he claimed the voice of god told him to kill sex workers he said he had schizophrenia which drove his unholy crusade at his trial he denied murder but admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility on the 22nd of May 1981 a jury found him guilty of 13 counts of murder and the attempted murder of seven others it was a ten to two majority verdict so two jurors thought he was insane most though were convinced he was in control of his actions it was a weird trial in fact it nearly didn't happen at all the prosecution had Sutcliffe assessed by psychiatrists who said he was mad the crown didn't want to go to trial Sutcliffe would plead guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility and be shipped off to a mental institution and locked up indefinitely a condo plea bargain well yeah to all intents and purposes but the judge had other ideas Mr Justice Boreham ordered a trial and the prosecution found themselves demolishing the evidence of their previously friendly witnesses Sutcliffe went to prison but the case refused to go away his family protested he should be in hospital and he was savagely attacked wasn't he by fellow inmates yes indeed eventually Sutcliffe was diagnosed with schizophrenia and transferred to Broadmoor secure psychiatric hospital since then there have been plenty of stories of Sutcliffe laughing up his sleeve at the authorities saying he's perfectly sane and that he fooled the doctors into believing he was mad what's the evidence for that well don't believe everything you read in the papers but back in 1981 Sonja Sutcliffe visited her husband in prison while he was awaiting trial and the guards overheard the Ripper tell her that if he convinced the doctors he was mad he'd go to hospital not a tough prison and he could be out in 10 years Sonja herself was being treated for schizophrenia when the couple got together and Sutcliffe apparently intended to ape the symptoms well that conversation if it took place is prison folklore but it does make you wonder if Sutcliffe is devious enough to have been pulling the wall over everyone's eyes for all these years however in august 2016 a medical tribunal ruled that he no longer required clinical treatment and could be returned to prison Sutcliffe is reported to have been transferred from Broadmoor to Frankland prison in Durham so Jacques you've worked on some really serious cases did you ever use forensic psychiatry you know is it effective and is its reputation still tainted by the Ripper case to be fair forensic psychiatry operates away from policing they have a different agenda and are part of the long-term treatment of people whether charged or convicted of crimes I assume that the prison system uses it more now than in the 1970s and rightly so one case I do remember dealing with exposed the difference between the needs of investigators and those supporting the individuals it was a murder in prison where a prisoner killed and then raped his cellmate that was bad enough but he'd earlier told his psychiatrist that he was fantasizing about doing just that convicting him was the easy bit the coroner's inquest was interesting though it took a dim view of how he'd been placed in a cell with a ready-made victim it all came down to where and when the confidentiality between a psychiatrist and client should be broken it was apparent that a danger to life would fit that scenario let's hope that Peter Sutcliffe never told anyone about his homicidal urges. [Music] now the sharp ear among you will have spotted a couple of significant emissions in this podcast we skated over this I’m Jacques I see you are still having no look cutting me I have the greatest respect for you George good lord you are no need to catching me now and four years ago when I started I reckon your boys are letting you down George they can't be much good on there what you have just heard derailed the Yorkshire Ripper inquiry in 1979 and we've not mentioned deoxyribonucleic acid I’ll call it what everyone else calls it DNA they are both going to feature in a future podcast all our episodes are available on Spreaker and wherever you get your podcasts please do like share and all those other good things that help us grow our audience we really do appreciate it but for now it's time to say goodbye from the National Justice Museum here in Nottingham it's our new home and we're getting to like it here we definitely do and thank you for your company do join us again soon for another Six O’clock Knock the Six O’clock Knock is presented by Simon Ford and Jacques Morrell and produced by Paul Bradshaw and is available on every major listening app please help us spread the word by giving us a five star review and telling your friends to subscribe.