PETER Sutcliffe’s heinous crimes made him one of the UK’s most notorious serial killers, murdering multiple women through the late 1970s into the early 1980s.
A new documentary revealing the untold stories of the Yorkshire Ripper’s “forgotten victims” airs tonight (March 4) on Channel 5 at 9pm.
Peter Sutcliffe – dubbed the Yorkshire Ripper – is one of UK’s most notorious serial killersCredit: Ian Whittaker
Who was Peter Sutcliffe?
Peter Sutcliffe grew up in Bingley, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, in a Catholic working class family.
He was born on June 2, 1946, and was said to be a loner.
He left school at 15 – working a series of menial jobs such as a grave digger, factory worker, door-to-door salesman and HGV driver.
In his teens, Sutcliffe was said to have an obsession with voyeurism – and he spent his days spying on prostitutes, and the men who used their services.
Sutcliffe was sentenced to 20 life sentences for his crimes, and was never released from jailCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd
After his arrest, Sutcliffe took on his mother’s maiden name and was known as Peter Coonan.
Sutcliffe married Sonia Szuma on August 10, 1974.
They lived in Heaton, Bradford, but were unable to have any children.
Peter Sutcliffe died in prison in November 2020 after his lungs collapsedCredit: Rex Features
How did Peter Sutcliffe die?
On October 29 2020, Sutcliffe was treated at University Hospital of North Durham – three miles from the maximum security HMP Frankland jail where he was an inmate – after suffering a suspected heart attack.
The convict lost the sight in his left eye in 1997 after being attacked with a pen by a fellow inmate.
He then lost the vision in his right eye after an injection supposed to clear the blurriness caused by diabetes went wrong.
He was totally blind, often used a wheelchair and required a “jail buddy” to help him get around the prison.
In September 2018, he was rushed to hospital with a bladder infection.
Sutcliffe’s murder victims, all of who were women – (left-right, top-bottom) Wilma McCann, Emily Jackson, Irene Richardson, Patricia Atkinson, Jayne McDonald, Jean Jordan, Yvonne Pearson, Helen Rytka, Vera Millward, Josephine Whitaker, Barbara Leach and Jacqueline HillCredit: PA:Press Association
How long was the Yorkshire Ripper in jail?
Sutcliffe died while serving 20 concurrent life sentences – meaning he would have spent the rest of his life behind bars.
He was convicted of murdering 13 women and attempting to murder seven more.
He was jailed in 1981, after police caught him with a 24-year-old prostitute called Olivia Reivers on January 2, 1981.
He was arrested when police realised his car had false number plates, and officers soon noticed that he shared many physical characteristics with the Yorkshire Ripper.
The following day police returned to the scene of Sutcliffe’s arrest – where they found a knife, hammer and rope which the killer had dumped the previous day.
After two days of intensive questioning, Sutcliffe finally admitted he was the Yorkshire Ripper.
His wife, Sonia Szurma, was also brought in for questioning by police.
Peter Sutcliffe had previously been questioned over the murders nine times, and West Yorkshire Police was heavily criticised for its handling of the case.
In 2010, the High Court dismissed an appeal by Sutcliffe – and confirmed that he would never be released from custody.