How the Yorkshire Ripper lived the 'life of Riley' in final years before he died

The Yorkshire Ripper lived out his final years with ‘enhanced’ privileges while he was in a maximum-security prison, it has been revealed.

Peter Sutcliffe benefited from an incentives scheme at HMP Frankland that meant he could have an increased number of visitors, shop from catalogues and wear his own clothes.

The serial killer, who had supposedly become a Jehovah’s Witness, was allowed to buy a games console but chose a DVD player instead.

Relatives of his victims have previously criticised the ‘luxury’ of his life in jail while they have been left to live with the trauma and loss he left behind.

The disclosure to under the Freedom of Information Act followed his secret funeral in November, which cost the Prison Service £3,000.

Sutcliffe, who changed his name to Peter William Coonan, was cremated at an undisclosed location following his death on November 13 from Covid, diabetes and heart disease at the age of 74.

An inquest into his death which opened in Durham today heard that he refused to shield in prison despite being at risk of getting seriously ill from the disease.

The son of one his victims told that he believed Sutcliffe had played the system for years, including saying he had a mental illness which led to him being first held in Broadmoor.

Neil Jackson was 17 when his mother, Emily Jackson, was murdered by the killer in 1976.

Neil, 62, from Leeds, said: ‘He shouldn’t have been given anything, he had the life of Riley.

‘He’s robbed the Government of thousands, if not millions. First he said he was mentally unwell and it meant he only spent about ten years in jail. After he was in prison he was looked after every day of the week while I’ve been going out to work six or seven days a week.

‘He had eye treatment and all kinds of medical treatment which he should have paid for, not us.

‘He’s had it given to him on a f****** plate.’

Emily, 42, became Sutcliffe’s second victim when he stabbed her 52 times.

Neil, who has recounted his experiences in a book called After Evil, said: ‘There was no criminal injuries or victim support in those days. We didn’t have anything and it affected all the family. My dad died after my mum and my family has been left to live with what he has done.

‘He should have been hanged straight away.’

Sutcliffe claimed incentives that meant he could choose his own clothes and purchase items from approved catalogue suppliers, the response from the Ministry of Justice shows.

He was also granted up to four visits per month but did not take up his full entitlement.

On average, the high-profile inmate had at least one visit a month.

He resided on an enhanced ‘A’ wing with other prisoners at the high-security, Category A jail.

Sutcliffe had been granted the privileges in prison through an incentives system which also allowed him to access private cash of up to £30 a week.

The scheme rewarding good behaviour meant he could move this from his private funds to his spending account.

Sutcliffe began his murder spree in the 1970s but is suspected of having started attacking women a decade earlier. Police incompetence meant many clues were missed and he was able to evade capture across Yorkshire and Greater Manchester for five years at the height of his crimes.

The perception that his victims were sex workers is said by campaigners to have affected the police’s willingness to pursue a thorough investigation.

West Yorkshire Police has apologised for the ‘language, tone and terminology’ that its officers used in relation to victims at the time.

The former lorry driver was finally caught in 1981, having killed 13 women.

He was sentenced the same year to 20 life terms for the murders and seven attempted murders.

Diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, Sutcliffe was transferred to high-security Broadmoor Hospital in 1984. It was there he was befriended by Jehovah’s Witnesses, who claimed he had become remorseful.

In 2016 he was transferred to Frankland in County Durham having been declared mentally fit to return to jail.

In its response to the request, the Ministry of Justice said: ‘I must make it clear the policy applies to all prisoners held within the custody of Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service, and not exclusively to Mr Coonan…Separately, it may be helpful for me to explain that the management of prisoner finance is mandated through Prison Service Instruction (PSI) 01- 2012 Manage Prisoner Finance and all transactions are managed to ensure the maintenance of safety, security and good order of the establishment and strict processes are in place to ensure this.

‘The need to improve prisoner finance defences was identified as necessary to counter the illicit economy whilst reducing the risk of money laundering in prisons, to provide a safe environment for all.

‘Following extensive consultation, there has been a policy change for prisoners receiving and sending money and the amounts that can be held in prisoners’ accounts, which came into effect on 2 November 2020.’

A Prison Service spokesperson said: ‘Prisoners can only purchase approved items and can have their privileges removed for poor behaviour.’

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