Serial killer on 'God's mission' will die in jail

He CLAIMED to be acting under divine instruction, carrying out a "mission from God" to kill prostitutes during which he murdered 13 women and attacked others.

But Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe was told yesterday that, even after his mental state had been taken into account, his offences were so wicked that he must never be released.

Lawyers for Sutcliffe told the High Court last year that psychiatrists believed his responsibility for the killings was "substantially diminished" because he was "suffering from encapsulated paranoid schizophrenia" at the time.

Sutcliffe had claimed to have heard a voice while working in a graveyard in 1967, a voice he said would later give him instructions to kill or eradicate sex workers.

But an Old Bailey jury found him guilty of murder rather than manslaughter in 1981, and yesterday three judges at the Court of Appeal said that decision was "unassailable and not open to compromise".

The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, Mr Justice Calvert-Smith and Mr Justice Griffith Williams upheld a ruling made by Mr Justice Mitting last year that Sutcliffe should never be eligible for parole.

Lord Judge said there was "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".

Sutcliffe's reign of terror began in July 1975 when he set upon Anna Rogulskyj in a Keighley street and fractured her skull with a weapon, thought to have been a hammer.

He attacked two more victims the following month – Olive Smelt, who was attacked in an alleyway in Halifax, and Caroline Browne, a 14 year-old girl who was struck repeatedly on the head with a blunt instrument in a lane near Silsden.

Sutcliffe committed his first murder in October 1975, killing Wilma McCann in Leeds by fracturing her skull and stabbing her 15 times in the throat and body.

He carried out two more attacks in Leeds in 1976, murdering Emily Jackson with a screwdriver in January and injuring Marcella Claxton in May by striking her several blows from behind.

In 1977, Sutcliffe murdered four victims – Irene Richardson, Patricia Atkinson, 16-year-old Jayne McDonald and Jean Jordan – and tried to kill two others, Maureen Long and Marilyn Moore, in a spate of attacks in Leeds, Bradford and Manchester.

Sutcliffe carried out two murders in January 1978, killing Yvonne Pearson in Bradford and Helen Rytka in Huddersfield. He later admitted having sex with Ms Rytka as she lay dying.

In May 1978, Sutcliffe killed Vera Millward in Manchester, hitting her over the head three times with a hammer and stabbing her abdomen repeatedly.

Until then, all of Sutcliffe's victims, except for Caroline Browne, had been prostitutes. He waited almost a year before he struck again, and none of his later attacks involved sex workers.

In 1979, Sutcliffe murdered Josephine Whittaker in Halifax and student Barbara Leach in Leeds with a sharpened screwdriver.

Sutcliffe carried out four attacks in three months in 1980, including the murders of civil servant Marguerite Walls in Farsley and student Jacqueline Hill in Leeds. He tried to kill Uphadya Bandara, a doctor from Singapore, in Leeds and attempted to murder 16 year-old Theresa Sykes in Huddersfield.

Armed with a hammer and a knife, Sutcliffe was with a woman when he was arrested in Sheffield in January 1981. He later admitted that the woman was his next intended victim.

Verdict ends years of doubt

The Court of Appeal ruling brings to an end years of doubt over how long the Yorkshire Ripper would spend in prison for his crimes.

Sentencing Sutcliffe to 20 life sentences at the Old Bailey in 1981, trial judge Mr Justice Boreham recommended that he serve 30 years before becoming eligible for parole.

In 1997, the then Lord Chief Justice, Lord Bingham, advised Home Secretary Jack Straw that the minimum tariff should be 35 years, but no tariff was set.

After Sutcliffe went to the High Court last year to ask for a parole date, Mr Justice Mitting decided he should never be released.

The killer's appeal against Mr Justice Mitting's ruling was rejected yesterday.