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Derry man committed ‘Ripper’ sex killing

The murder of a woman for which the Yorkshire Ripper had been blamed was carried out by |a Londonderry man, it has emerged.

Christopher Smith, who was born Alexander Smyth in Derry, was linked to the murder by DNA evidence.

Joan Harrison was found battered and raped in a garage 35 years ago in Preston, Lancashire, in a killing linked to Peter |Sutcliffe.

Detectives across the country are to investigate whether he may have been behind other unsolved serious crimes.

Smith remained at large over the murder until the day he died of cancer aged 60 in 2008.

The father-of-six moved to Wales at the age of 15 and over the years adopted 41 different aliases and was known as Chris Smith for the last 18 years of his life.

Investigations have revealed a violent individual with a string of convictions ranging from assault to theft and sexual attacks.

Married three times, in 1981 he was jailed for 30 months for attempted rape after attacking a girl in a public car park in Bolton.

In 1983, eight years after the Harrison murder, he stabbed his first wife to death and was given a two-year suspended sentence for her manslaughter.

Six days before he died his DNA was taken when he was breathalysed for drink-driving.

It was his first appearance on the national DNA database after having stayed out of trouble for 18 years, and he was connected to evidence collected at the scene of the mother-of-two's death.

Police said the grandfather, who lived in Leeds, would have been charged with murder if he was still alive and they would have expected a conviction.

A three-page note from Smith — penned the day before he died — in which he seemingly confessed was found at his home and stated: “I can't go on with the guilt.”

Speaking of the grief suffered by the victim’s family over the years, Detective Chief Superintendent Graham Gardner, head of crime for Lancashire Constabulary, said: “I truly hope this development will finally bring some closure.”

Belfast Telegraph