Ombudsman critical of prison for keeping serial killer Peter Sutcliffe in chains until shortly before his death and not allowing him to call his next of kin, new report says

Serial killer Peter Sutcliffe was kept in chains until shortly before his death and not allowed to call his next of kin, an ombudsman report has revealed.

Thursday, 13th January 2022, 9:23 am

Sutcliffe, who murdered 13 women in a six-year killing spree, died at HMP Frankland from a combination of Covid-19 and heart disease in November 2020.

Sutcliffe, who was also blind and used a wheelchair, had refused hospital treatment telling staff “no point as all the too-ing and fro-ing isn’t helping him or doctors”, the report revealed.

He was convicted in 1981 and spent three decades at the high-security psychiatric hospital Broadmoor Hospital before being moved to HMP Frankland in 2016.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Peter Sutcliffe, who murdered 13 women in a six-year killing spree, died at HMP Frankland from a combination of Covid-19 and heart disease in November 2020. A prison ombudsman has raised concerns about his treatment.

Prison ombudsman Sue McAllister raised concerns that Sutcliffe had an eight hour wait for secure transport back to the prison after being discharged from hospital.

She also criticised the the use of restraints on Sutcliffe and a delay by staff in removing them when instructed to do so.

The report also found that Sutcliffe - who went by the name Peter Coonan - was not able to call his next of kin - his wife Sonia - before he died.

The report states: "Although most of the prison’s liaison with Mr Coonan’s next of kin was of a good standard, we are disappointed that he could not talk directly with his next of kin when he was dying and that prison staff had to act as messengers for their personal messages."

Read More

Read More
The 13 victims of Peter Sutcliffe: remembering who they were

The report found that on October 28, 2020, he was sent to hospital after a scan found problems in his heart and he was fitted with a pacemaker and discharged.

Sutcliffe tested positive for Covid-19 at prison on November 4 and spent more time in hospital on November 8 and 9 due to concerns about low oxygen in his blood.

He was vomiting and also had diarrhoea, but on both occasions he was discharged after is condition improved.

On November 10, Sutcliffe was asked if he wanted moving back to hospital but told staff "there's no point as all the too-ing and fro-ing isn’t helping him or doctors”.

But the prison GP spoke with a hospital consultant and agreed that he should be moved there as his kidney function had deteriorated.

He was moved to hospital and the heads of security and operations and healthcare staff at the prison agreed restraints wouldn’t be required due to his condition.

But the on-call manager of the Long-Term and High Security Estate Group rejected this and ordered an escort chain be used.

Ms McAllister wrote: "We are concerned that healthcare staff did not include crucial information about Mr Coonan’s medical condition in the escort risk assessment, which meant that the authorising managers in the Category A Team were unable to make informed decisions on whether it was justified to restrain him.

"We are also concerned that when hospital doctors were giving Mr Coonan end of life care, the decision to remove Mr Coonan’s restraints took too long and that escorting officers did not remove the restraints promptly after an authorising manager gave verbal permission to do so."

Sutcliffe’s killing spree began in October 1975 with 28-year-old mother-of-four Wilma McCann, who was hit with a hammer and stabbed 15 times.

He was interviewed nine times during the course of a huge investigation but continued to avoid arrest and was able to carry on killing.

Over the next five years, Sutcliffe claimed the lives of 12 more innocent women before finally being apprehended by police in Sheffield for driving with false number plates.

He was convicted in 1981 and spent three decades at the high-security psychiatric hospital Broadmoor Hospital before being moved to HMP Frankland in 2016.

Sutcliffe, a former lorry driver from Bradford, is said to have refused treatment for Covid-19 and to have also been dealing with several other health problems.

On the day of his death, West Yorkshire Police apologised for the "language, tone and terminology" used in the 1970s to describe some of the killer's victims.

Support the YEP and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news and the latest on Leeds United. With a digital subscription, you'll see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click here to subscribe.