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Yorkshire Ripper 'should go back to prison as no longer mentally ill'

Published 01/12/2015

Justice Secretary Michael Gove, pictured, will make a decision on whether Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe will be returned to prison from Broadmoor psychiatric hospital
Justice Secretary Michael Gove, pictured, will make a decision on whether Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe will be returned to prison from Broadmoor psychiatric hospital

The Yorkshire Ripper should be returned to prison after psychiatrists said he is no longer mentally ill, according to the son of the first woman killed by Peter Sutcliffe.

Richard McCann was commenting on a recommendation from doctors that Sutcliffe, 69, is taken out of Broadmoor Hospital, the high-security psychiatric centre in Berkshire where he has been held for 31 years, and moved into a specialist prison unit.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said the final decision on whether Sutcliffe will be moved would be made by Justice Secretary Michael Gove.

An MoJ spokesman said: "Decisions over whether prisoners are to be sent back to prison from secure hospitals are based on clinical assessments made by independent medical staff.

"The High Court ordered in 2009 that Sutcliffe should never be released. This was then upheld by the Court of Appeal.

"Our thoughts are with Sutcliffe's victims and their families."

Mr McCann's mother was the first of 13 women murdered by Sutcliffe, when he attacked her in Leeds in October 1975.

He said his first reaction was that he did not think it mattered where Sutcliffe was held.

But he said: " Having thought about it, I guess it does matter. I doesn't bring my mum back but it does matter because it's costly for him to be in there and he's living more freely than your typical prisoner.

"So, if it's deemed that his mental health would allow him to go back into the normal prison regime, well I think that's right. I don't say that in anger. I think it is the right thing for him to back in prison."

He added: "But I don't lose any sleep about the fact he's in Broadmoor."

Mr McCann, who was five when his mother was brutally murdered, said what really mattered to him and his family was that Sutcliffe was never released.

He said he had not had any official confirmation of the decision about Sutcliffe's mental health.

Sutcliffe was given 20 life terms for the murder of 13 women and the attempted murder of seven others in Yorkshire and Greater Manchester after being convicted at the Old Bailey in 1981.

He was moved to Broadmoor from Parkhurst jail in 1984 after being diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

The former lorry driver, from Bradford, West Yorkshire, was dubbed the Yorkshire Ripper because he mutilated the bodies of his victims.

He was to tell psychiatrists who examined him, and gave evidence at trial, that while working in a graveyard in 1967 he heard a voice, which he took to be a divine voice, which eventually told him it was his mission to kill or eradicate prostitutes.

The High Court ruled that Sutcliffe should never be released and his subsequent appeal against this was rejected.

Meanwhile, Broadmoor has previously been rated inadequate by a watchdog, with concerns raised about patients being physically restrained too often.

Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission said they did not see convincing evidence that seclusion and restraint were only being used in cases when it was deemed absolutely necessary.

Michael Spurr, chief executive of the National Offender Management Service, said he could not provide a timescale for when a decision would be made.

He told the Commons Justice Committee: "I can't say when the decision will be finalised.

"I don't think it would be right to talk about an individual case.

"The process is that clinicians make a determination about whether an individual still requires detention in a hospital.

"They have determined this individual does not, as is a matter now of public record.

"We will consider that and the decision will be made by the Secretary of State in terms of agreeing to move the person back to prison or not. "

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