The Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe, who murdered 13 women, may be released from the secure psychiatric hospital Broadmoor and sent to a mainstream prison after a tribunal concluded that his mental illness was under control.
Sutcliffe was given 20 life sentences when he was convicted in 1981, but was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 1984 and transferred to Broadmoor in Berkshire.
On Thursday, a mental health tribunal ruled that he no longer required clinical treatment and could therefore be moved back into the mainstream prison system. He is serving a whole-life tariff and will die in jail.
The Ministry of Justice must now decide whether or not to approve the tribunal’s decision on Sutcliffe, now known as Peter Coonan.
An MoJ spokeswoman 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 2010 that Peter Coonan should never be released. This was upheld by the court of appeal. Peter Coonan will remain locked up and will never be released for his evil crimes. Our thoughts are with Coonan’s victims and their families.”
Sutcliffe killed 13 women, many of whom were prostitutes, and injured seven more in West Yorkshire between 1975 and 1980. He was finally captured by police after he was pulled over with a prostitute in his car while driving with false number plates.
At his trial in 1981, he pleaded not guilty to 13 counts of murder, but pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, and claimed that he had heard the voice of God telling him to kill people. The judge dismissed this defence and insisted that the case be heard by a jury, who found him guilty on all 13 counts of murder.
Sutcliffe applied to have a minimum term set to his sentence, but in 2010, the high court ruled that he would spend the rest of his life in prison.
A psychiatric report submitted to the high court said he had been given anti-psychotic medication since 1993, which had successfully contained his mental illness.
In December, a report by medical experts recommended that he be moved from psychiatric hospital to prison.
- This article was amended on 12 August 2016 to clarify that Peter Sutcliffe pleaded not guilty to 13 counts of murder, but guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.