Yorkshire Ripper loses appeal over 'whole life' term

Peter Sutcliffe
Image caption Peter Sutcliffe is detained at Broadmoor psychiatric hospital

Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe has lost his appeal over a ruling that he should never be released.

Sutcliffe received 20 life sentences in 1981 for murdering 13 women and attempting to murder seven others in Yorkshire and Greater Manchester.

The 64-year-old applied for permission to challenge a High Court order in 2009 that he must serve a "whole life" tariff.

But it was rejected by three judges at the Court of Appeal on Friday.

Theresa Toth, who survived an attack by Sutcliffe near her home in Huddersfield in November 1980 when she was 16 years old, said she was "relieved" by the decision.

Sutcliffe hit her three times over the head with a hammer but he was disturbed by her boyfriend who heard her screams.

She said: "I am very relieved. He doesn't deserve to ever set foot outside of prison for what he did."

'Extreme horror'

The serial killer is detained at Broadmoor psychiatric hospital after being transferred from prison in 1984, suffering from paranoid schizophrenia.

When he was jailed, a judge recommended that he served a minimum of 30 years behind bars.

He used a hammer to attack his first victim on 5 July 1975.

Sutcliffe is said to have believed he was on a "mission from God" to kill prostitutes - although not all his victims were sex workers.

He was dubbed the Yorkshire Ripper because he mutilated his victims' bodies using a hammer, a sharpened screwdriver and a knife.

During a hearing last year his QC argued that Sutcliffe's mental disorder justified a minimum jail term of a "finite" number of years.

Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, one of the three Court of Appeal judges at Friday's hearing, said an examination of the "entire catalogue of the offences as a whole demonstrates that this was criminal conduct at the extreme end of horror".

He said: "We are not, of course, suggesting that the man who perpetrated these crimes was in any ordinary sense of the words 'normal' or 'average'."

The "sheer abnormality of his actions themselves suggest some element of mental disorder", he said.

But he 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 fulfil God's will carries any greater conviction now than it did when it was rejected by the jury."

Lord Judge, together with Mr Justice Calvert-Smith and Mr Justice Griffith Williams ruled that the interests of justice required "nothing less" than a whole life order.

Lord Judge said: "Each of the attempted murders, as well as each of the murder offences, taken on its own was a dreadful crime of utmost brutality: taking all the offences together, we have been considering an accumulation of criminality of exceptional magnitude which went far beyond the legislative criteria for a whole-life order.

"Even accepting that an element of mental disturbance was intrinsic to the commission of these crimes, the interests of justice require nothing less than a whole-life order.

"That is the only available punishment proportionate to these crimes."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites