Judges delay ruling on Peter Sutcliffe sentence
Dec 1 2010 Huddersfield Daily Examiner
APPEAL Court judges have yet to decide if Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe should stay in jail.
The killer’s mental disorder justified a minimum jail term of a “finite” number of years instead of an order than he should never be released, Court of Appeal judges have heard.
But they reserved their judgement. after hearing legal argument from both sides.
Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge said there was “a great deal of material for us to work our way through” and the court would give its decision in writing “in due course”.
The submission was made by Edward Fitzgerald QC, representing Sutcliffe, now known as Peter Coonan, for his challenge against a High Court judge’s ruling that he must serve a “whole life” tariff.
Mr Fitzgerald told three judges in London: “We accept that the applicant was convicted of the brutal murder of 13 women and the attempted murder of seven others and, on the face of it, we accept that the number and the nature of the murders is such that would call for a whole life tariff.
“The sole submission in this case is that the disorder suffered, and still suffered by the applicant, is a sufficient mitigating circumstance to justify a long, finite term of years instead of a whole life tariff.”
He told Lord Judge, Mr Justice Calvert-Smith and Mr Justice Griffith Williams: “Can I just stress that, of course, the tariff only means the minimum term he must serve before he can apply for parole and it does not have any implications as to release. It just means that he would have the opportunity to put his case to the Parole Board.”
Sutcliffe is challenging a ruling by Mr Justice Mitting on July 16.
The former lorry driver, from Bradford was convicted at the Old Bailey in 1981.
Sutcliffe, now 64, received 20 life terms for the murder of 13 women and the attempted murder of others in Yorkshire and Greater Manchester.
His victims included teenage Huddersfield prostitute Helen Rytka, murdered in Great Northern Street.
Sutcliffe is being held in Broadmoor top security psychiatric hospital after being transferred from prison in 1984 suffering from paranoid schizophrenia.
The QC said, in the last 29 years, “a massive amount” of developments had taken place, “all of which, in our submission, confirm that he was suffering from mental disorder”.
He told the court Sutcliffe was transferred to Broadmoor on the basis of certificates accepting he was suffering from clinical schizophrenia and had done since 1967.
Peter Wright QC, opposing the appeal on behalf of the Crown, submitted that there was “no mitigation capable of displacing the starting point of whole life” for what he described as a “terrible catalogue of crimes”.