January 5, 1981: Peter Sutcliffe charged with Yorkshire Ripper murders

On this day in 1981, Peter Sutcliffe appeared in court to be formally charged with the 13 murders committed by the serial killer dubbed ‘The Yorkshire Ripper’.

Peter Sutcliffe was formally charged in court with 13 murders committed by the serial killer nicknamed ‘The Yorkshire Ripper’ on this day in 1981.

Sutcliffe had been arrested three days previously in Sheffield while sat in a car bearing false number plates, alongside a local prostitute.

Police later discovered a knife, hammer and rope that he had hurriedly discarded at the scene of his arrest, and found another knife left in the toilet cistern at the police station he was taken to.

The investigation into the Yorkshire Ripper murders had lasted for over five years and involved hundreds of police officers, and several thousand hours of work.

The massive amount of information and evidence accrued – including hoax tapes and letters sent from a man with a Wearside accent – had built up a set of assumptions in the police which allowed Sutcliffe to remain at large, despite having been questioned no less than nine times.

Sutcliffe was found guilty of the 13 murders and seven counts of attempted murder on May 22. He was jailed for a term of not less than 30 years.

In 2010 his sentence was increased to a full life term, meaning that he is now likely to be incarcerated until his death.

[May 24, 1989: Hislop fury as Yorkshire Ripper's wife wins £600,000 damages from Private Eye]