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Moving Ripper back to prison 'will ease burden on taxpayer'

By Amy Murphy

Published 13/08/2016

Murderer: Peter Sutcliffe
Murderer: Peter Sutcliffe

The decision to move Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe out of Broadmoor psychiatric hospital and back into jail will save the taxpayer hundreds of thousands of pounds, an expert has said.

Dr Ruth Tully, a consultant forensic psychologist at the University of Nottingham, said cost would not have been a factor in the ruling that the serial killer is sane enough to be transferred back to jail.

The 70-year-old, who has spent 32 years inside the high-security institution in Berkshire after murdering 13 women and attempting to kill seven more between 1976 and 1981, will also face a much tougher regime in prison, Dr Tully claimed.

"His clinical team have made a clinical decision - not based on cost - that he is well enough to be transferred," she said.

"The clinical team are there to assess mental health, risk to the patient, risk to the public - they cannot be weighted by a costs decision. It costs more to keep somebody in psychiatric care because there is a lot more treatment going on."

Figures show that it costs around £325,000 per year to keep a patient in Broadmoor, compared to around £45,000 per year in a category A prison - a £280,000 difference.

Sutcliffe, who has been in Broadmoor since 1984 after he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia following his life sentence in 1981, will continue to have his mental health assessed in prison and could be returned to a psychiatric hospital if there is a change in his condition.

"If he became unwell again, psychiatrists would recommend him for sectioning back to hospital, which would have to be agreed," Dr Tully said.

The expert added that the regimes are very different in each setting, but he would still have some luxuries, such as a television in his room.

Sutcliffe would also be classed as a vulnerable prisoner in jail.

The decision of the mental health tribunal has been referred to the Ministry of Justice, which still needs to confirm the move.

Sutcliffe, a former lorry driver from Bradford, now calls himself Peter Coonan. Most of his victims were prostitutes who were mutilated and beaten to death.

He was given 20 life terms for the murders and was caught when police found him with a prostitute in his car.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "Peter Coonan will remain locked up and will never be released for the evil crimes he committed. Our thoughts are with Coonan's victims and their families."

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