Monday, July 19, 2010

British serial killer "Yorkshire Ripper" sentenced to life without parole - a rarity in UK

Published Date: 16 July 2010 [Yorkshire Post]
By Olwen Dudgeon Legal Correspondent
YORKSHIRE Ripper Peter Sutcliffe will spend the rest of his life behind bars, a judge has ruled. The serial killer, now known as Peter Coonan, must serve a "whole life" tariff, Mr Justice Mitting announced yesterday at the High Court in London. The judge said he had no doubt that was the appropriate term and added: "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."

His ruling was widely welcomed among the victims' families. Richard McCann, whose mother Wilma was the first murdered during Sutcliffe's reign of terror, said his overwhelming feeling was one of relief. "I just hope he does not go and appeal it and keep this all going." Sutcliffe, now 64, from Bradford, was convicted at the Old Bailey in 1981, receiving 20 life sentences for the murder of 13 women and the attempted murder of seven more.

He was transferred to Broadmoor top-security psychiatric hospital three years later suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. Mr Justice Mitting said he did not accept any reduction from a whole life term was appropriate for "exceptional progress" by Sutcliffe in hospital. He said he believed it was more likely than not that had a Home Secretary set a tariff for Sutcliffe it would have been a whole life.

"Only Rosemary West and Dennis Neilsen approach the number of victims murdered."

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