Sutcliffe admits killings as Ripper trial opens

The Guardian, April 30 1981

Peter William Sutcliffe, aged 34, stood in the dock at the Old Bailey yesterday and admitted killing 13 women and attempting to murder seven others.

But the judge, Mr Justice Boreham, adjourned the case until Tuesday after Mr Sutcliffe denied murdering his victims and pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. He said a jury should decide whether Mr Sutcliffe is guilty of murder or manslaughter.

The court was packed for the short hearing. Mr Sutcliffe’s wife, Sonya, sat with her mother and a woman police officer. The Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Thomas Hetherington, and the Attorney General, Sir Michael Havers, appeared in person to conduct the prosecution.

Mr Sutcliffe was led into the dock by three prison officers who stood by him as the clerk of the court, Mr Michael McKenzie, read the indictment to him. To each of the seven charges of attempted murder, Mr Sutcliffe replied “Guilty”, but to the murder charges he replied 13 times: “Not guilty to murder but guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.”

Mr Sutcliffe then sat in the dock as Sir Michael Havers and his own counsel, Mr James Thadwin, QC, made representations to the judge on points of law. The judge directed the press not to report these proceedings. After listening to the legal submissions, Mr Justice Boreham said he had “grave anxieties” about Mr Sutcliffe’s pleas of diminished responsibility: “It seems to me that it would be more appropriate if this case was held with a jury.”

The trial was adjourned until Tuesday at the request of the defence.

Mr Sutcliffe is charged with murdering: Wilma McCann, aged 28, in Leeds, on October 30, 1975; Emily Jackson, 42, in Leeds on January 20, 1976; Irene Richardson, 28, in Leeds on February 6, 1977; Patricia (Tina) Atkinson in Bradford on April 24, 1977; Jayne Macdonald, 16, in Leeds on June 26, 1977; Jean Jordon (also known as Royle), 21, in Manchester between September 30 and October 11, 1977; Yvonne Pearson, 22, in Bradford between January 20 and March 30, 1978; Helen Rytka, 18, in Huddersfield on January 31, 1978; Vera Millward, 40, in Manchester on or about May 16, 1978; Josephine Whitaker, 19, in Halifax, on or about April 4, 1979 ; Barbara Leach, 20, in Bradford between September 1 and 4, 1979 ; Marguerite Walls, 47, in Leeds on or about August 20, 1980; Jacqueline Hill, 20, in Leeds between November 16 and 19, 1980. He is also charged with attempting to murder : Anna Rogulsky in Keighley on July 5, 1975; Olive Smelt in Halifax on August 5, 1975; Marcella Claxton in Leeds on May 9, 1976; Maureen Long in Bradford on July 10, 1977; Marilyn Moore in Leeds on December 14, 1977; Dr Upadhya Bandara in Leeds on September 24, 1980; Teresa Sykes in Huddersfield on November 5, 1980.