THE evil wickedness of Peter Sutcliffe can be measured by his continuing notoriety more than 30 years after being found guilty of murdering 13 women, and attempting to kill many others.
This follows the level of intrigue which greeted the latest reports into the mass murderer’s wellbeing and whether he is fit to be transferred back to mainstream prison from Broadmoor psychiatric hospital where he has been confined for three decades after being diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia three years after his conviction.
The dilemma facing the Ministry of Justice is an invidious one. Though some will argue that the so-called Yorkshire Ripper has been over-indulged for too long, his presence in a major prison like Wakefield would inevitably necessitate a major – and expensive – security operation to ensure his safety and protection from fellow inmates.
Yet it would be a betrayal of Sutcliffe’s victims if the serial killer was treated as a special case. If the authorities are satisfied that he is no longer mentally ill, he should be transferred back to a Category A prison at the penal system’s earliest convenience – Sutcliffe’s case should be handled no differently to that of any other convicted criminal.
In the meantime, the public can be comforted by the Court of Appeal’s ruling in 2011 that life means life because of the savagery of these crimes. This remains as pertinent now as it was on May 22, 1981, when he was led from the Old Bailey dock after being found guilty of a terrifying series of brutal and depraved attacks across Yorkshire and the North which shocked the nation, and which still haunt so many to this day.