Ripper in new probe over 17 unsolved attacks in Yorkshire

Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper
Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper
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PETER Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper, has been questioned in his new jail about up to 17 unsolved attacks on women in Leeds and around West Yorkshire, it was reported today.

The victims, all of whom survived, were said to have sustained injuries similar to those inflicted during Sutcliffe’s 20 known crimes.

1979: West Yorkshire's Assistant Chief Constable, George Oldfield, during the hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper

1979: West Yorkshire's Assistant Chief Constable, George Oldfield, during the hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper

The Bradford lorry driver was jailed in 1981 for 13 murders and seven attacks during a six-year period in which the county was convulsed with fear.

West Yorkshire Police declined to comment on a report in The Sun, which said some of the unsolved cases involved the same kind of hammer used by Sutcliffe.

But the force has acknowledged previously that it was conducting an “ongoing investigation” into historical cases linked to the Ripper in a 1982 report by a former inspector of constabulary, Sir Lawrence Byford.

The new round of questioning was said to have been conducted at Frankland Prison in Durham, to which Sutcliffe, 70, was moved last summer after a ruling that he no longer needed to be housed in a secure hospital.

Among the cases linked to him is that of 20 year-old Mo Lea, who was attacked in October 1980, near Leeds University.

She spoke publicly of her ordeal six years ago, vowing to raise £1m - the amount spent so far on keeping Sutcliffe locked up, to help victims of crime.

Other unsolved cases include a 1979 attack on student Ann Rooney, 22, in Horsforth and an assault on Tracy Browne who, at 14, was hit with a hammer in Silsden, near Keighley, in August 1975, two months before Sutcliffe claimed his first murder victim, 28 year-old Wilma McCann, in Leeds.

Police are also said to be investigating the cases of Gloria Wood, 28, in Bradford, a year earlier, and Yvonne Mysliwiec, who was a local newspaper reporter in Ilkley when she was attacked in a similar manner.

Other unsolved attacks from the period include those of shop assistant Rosemary Stead, 18, and Bradford resident Maureen Hogan, both in 1976.

The Byford Report, which was only made public in 2006, concluded that Sutcliffe - who now uses the name Peter Cooney - could have been responsible for 13 more offences.

It said there was an “unexplained lull” in his activities between 1969, when he first came to the police’s attention, and the date of his first conviction in 1975. The report said it was “highly improbable” that his known crimes were the only ones attributable to him.

It added: “This feeling is reinforced by examining the details of a number of assaults on women since 1969 which, in some ways, clearly fall into the established pattern of Sutcliffe’s overall modus-operandi.”

Last year, West Yorkshire Police said officers had visited a small number of people named in the Byford Report.

In a statement, police said: “The report, when published in the early 1980s, listed 13 offences.

“These offences form part of the historic cases that continue to be reviewed by West Yorkshire Police.

“Officers did take updated statements from them and those statements from part of the review process which is ongoing.

“West Yorkshire Police continue to keep an open and objective mind on all these investigations.”

In a later statement, the force added: “West Yorkshire Police are continuing with an ongoing process to review non-recent undetected offences in line with national guidance around the handling of information and in conjunction with the Home Office under the requirements of the Public Records Act.”