Son of Yorkshire Ripper victim Wilma McCann calls for apology from West Yorkshire Police over 'victim blaming' language used towards Sutcliffe's victims
The son of Peter Sutcliffe's first recognised victim has called for an official apology from police for rhetoric used about victims during his five-year reign of terror.
Richard McCann's mother Wilma McCann, 28, was murdered 45 years ago today (Friday) on playing fields in Chapeltown, Leeds, just yards from her home.
Sutcliffe went on to murder 12 more women over a five-year course of violence, in which detectives initially thought was a crusade specifically targeting sex workers.
The murder of 16-year-old shop assistant Jayne MacDonald in 1977 prompted a fresh wave of fear, leading to West Yorkshire Police releasing a statement in which the force said "innocent women" were now also being killed.
Mr McCann, who still lives in Leeds and works as a motivational speaker, published a video on Thursday in which he paid tribute to his late mother and called for a formal apology from West Yorkshire Police for what he felt was language which "suggested sex workers' lives were somehow worth less".
In the video, Mr McCann said there was "far more to my mum than being the first victim of Peter Sutcliffe".
He said: "45 years ago tonight, my mum went out drinking. If only I had known what was to come, I maybe would have held her a little bit closer for a little bit longer and told her how much I loved her. Because the following morning the pair of us, me and (sister) Sonia, walked to the street looking for my mum and of course we all know what happened next."
Mr McCann added how his mother had been described by police and then the media as having "somehow deserved what she got".
"The fifth person to die was a girl called Jayne MacDonald and she lived on the same street that we lived with my mum, and it was then that it was announced that he'd killed an 'innocent victim'."
"My mum was more than just a 'good time girl' or a 'woman of loose morals', as she was described by the police.
"I hate the things that they said about some of the women, including my mum. It's like they seem to forget the person behind that black and white mugshot that I hated for years."
Sutcliffe was sentenced to a whole life order in 1981 after he was caught in a chance encounter during a routine police patrol in Sheffield.
During his trial, prosecutor Sir Michael Havers, the then-Attorney General, controversially said while some of the victims were prostitutes, “perhaps the saddest part of this case is that some were not”.
The killer is still serving the sentence, and was reportedly taken to hospital following a suspected heart attack earlier this week. The Ministry of Justice has not confirmed the reports.
Mr McCann added: "My request is for West Yorkshire Police to finally make an apology. This is not aimed at any individual, this is West Yorkshire Police as a public body there to protect us. I want to ask them to put the record straight and to make that apology for how they described some of the women, including my mum, as 'deserving' of what happened to them somehow.
"These things are absolutely appalling that took place and the effects of that are still being felt."
Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, Mr McCann said: "I want the force once and for all to give some closure and apologise for the way it described some women.
"The things that were said in particular by George Oldfield [former Assistant Chief Constable for West Yorkshire Police] were about some of the victims having 'doubtful morals' and the comments about Jayne MacDonald being an 'innocent victim'. Weren't they all innocent?
"These words, to me, suggested that some lives taken were worth more than others.
"I think this anniversary would be a great opportunity for West Yorkshire Police to make this overdue apology. My children are growing up now and will soon learn about their grandmother and how she was seen."
A spokesman for West Yorkshire Police said: “We have received correspondence from Mr McCann and commit to continue to engage with him directly.”