At Dewsbury Magistrates' Court, Court Clerk Dean Gardener asked: "Are you Peter William Sutcliffe, of 6 Garden Lane, Heaton, Bradford?" After an affirmative response, he continued: "You are accused that between 16 November and 19 November 1980 you did murder Jacqueline Hill against the peace of our Sovereign Lady the Queen. Further, you are charged that at Mirfield, between 13 November and 2 January, you stole two motor vehicle registration-plates to the total value of 50p, the property of Cyril Bamforth."
The County prosecuting solicitor, Maurice Shaffner, stated that Sutcliffe was not legally represented. Sutcliffe replied in the negative when asked whether he wanted reporting restrictions lifted. The hearing lasted about five minutes.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 20 1981: MURDER AND ATTEMPTED MURDER CHARGES
At Dewsbury Magistrates' Court, Peter William Sutcliffe was committed for trial accused of 13 murders and seven attempted murders, and transferred to Leeds Crown Court. During a 14 minute hearing, David Kyle, for the Director of Public Prosecutions, made the application for Sutcliffe's committal for trial under a procedure where an accused person can be committed for trial without oral evidence being given. The prosecution also requested, and the magistrates agreed, to the withdrawal of one charge of the theft of number plates worth 50p.
Kerry Macgill, defending, accepted committal without oral evidence. He did not make any applications for bail or for the lifting of reporting restrictions. He did apply for two counsel to represent Sutcliffe at his trial.
The murder charges were of: Wilma McCann, 24, of Scott Hall Avenue, Chapeltown, at Leeds, on October 30 1975; Emily Monica Jackson, 42, of Back Green, Churwell, Morley, at Leeds, on or about January 20 1976; Irene Richardson, 28, of Cowper Steet, Leeds, at Leeds, on or about February 6 1977; Patricia Atkinson, 33, of Oak Avenue, Manningham, in Bradford, on or about April 23 1977; Jayne Michelle McDonald, 16, of Scott Hall Avenue, Chapeltown, at Leeds, on June 26 1977; Jean Bernadette Jordan (Royle), 20, of Lingbeck Cresent, Hulme, Manchester, at Manchester, between September 30 1977 and October 11 1977; Yvonne Ann Pearson, 22, of Woodbury Street, Bradford, at Bradford, between January 20 and March 26 1978; Helen Maria Rytka, 18, of Elmwood Avenue, Birkby, Huddersfield, between January 30 and February 4 1978; Vera Evelyn Millward, 40, of Grenham Avenue, Hulme, Manchester, at Manchester, on or about May 16 1978; Josephine Anne Whitaker, 19, of Ivy Street, Halifax, at Halifax, on or about April 4 1979; Barbara Janine Leach, 20, of Grove Terrace, Bradford, at Bradford, between September 1 and September 4 1979; Marguerite Walls, 47, of New Park Croft, Farsley, Leeds, at Farsley, on or about August 20 1980; Jacqueline Hill, 20, of Lupton Flats, Headingley, at Headingley, Leeds, between November 16 and November 19 1980.
The attempted murders charges were of: Anna Patricia Rogulskyj, 39, at Keighley, on July 5 1975; Olive Smelt, 51, at Halifax, on or about August 15 1975; Marcella Claxton, 23, at Leeds, on May 9 1976; Maureen Long, 46, at Bradford, on July 10 1977, Marilyn Moore, 28, at Leeds, on December 14 1977; Upadhya Nadavathy Bandara, 34, at Leeds, on September 24 1980; Teresa Simone Sykes, 16, at Huddersfield, on November 5 1980.
TUESDAY, APRIL 14 1981: TRANSFER TO OLD BAILEY FOR TRIAL
At Leeds Crown Court, the judge ruled that Peter Sutcliffe would go on trial in London's Old Bailey criminal court April 29 1981. During a four minute hearing, both defence and prosecution lawyers agreed to the transfer, fearing Sutcliffe might not get a fair hearing before a Yorkshire jury.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 29 1981: PRELIMINARIES
Case: Regina v Peter William Sutcliffe
Place: Number One Court, Central Criminal Court, "Old Bailey", London
Judge: Mr Justice Boreham
Prosecution: Sir Michael Havers, QC, the Attorney General
Prosecution: Harry Ognall, QC
Defence: James Chadwin, QC
Defence: Sidney Levine
(No jury is present.)
When asked his plea on each of the thirteen murder charges, Peter William Sutcliffe pleaded: "Not guilty to murder but guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility." He also pleaded guilty to each of the seven charges of attempt murder.
Sir Michael Havers told Mr Justice Boreham that the Crown accepts the pleas by Mr Sutcliffe. He also stated that he has the reports of four psychiatrists who had interviewed Mr Sutcliffe. Sir Michael: "I have met with them to discuss their reports with the greatest care and anxiety and at great length. The general consensus of the doctors is that this is a case of diminished responsibility, the illness being paranoiac schizophrenia."
Mr Justice Boreham: "I have very grave anxieties about Sutcliffe and his pleas. I would like you to explain in far greater detail than usual any decision that you are going to make about the acceptance of these pleas."
For the next two hours, Sir Michael Havers outlined the reasons why the Crown was prepared to accept the pleas of diminished responsibility, including details of Mr Sutcliffe's history, confessions, conversations with the psychiatrists, the reports by the psychiatrists, and other evidence. (NOTE: Since these elements of the case are detailed later during the trial itself, I have not included them here.)
After Sir Micheal Havers finished putting his case: "that this is a case of diminished responsibility", Mr Justice Boreham rendered his decision: "The matter that troubles me is not the medical opinions because there is a consensus. It seems to me that all of these opinions - and I say this without criticism - all these opinions are based simply on what this defendant has told the doctors, nothing more. Moreover what he has told the doctors conflicts substantially with what he told the police on the morning of arrest. I use the word 'conflict' advisedly. In statements to the police he expressed a desire to kill all women. If that is right - and here I really need your help - is that not a matter which ought to be tested? Where lies the evidence which gives these doctors the factual basis for these pleas? It is a matter for the defendant to establish. It is a matter for a jury. We have in a sense conducted a trial which has satisfied us. It seems to me it would be more appropriate if this case were dealt with by a jury."
After the 90-minute luncheon adjournment, there was further legal discussion which lasted for about 40 minutes. Sir Michael Havers informed the judge that he could proceed with the case before a jury on Friday, May 1st. James Chadwin, for the defence, sought an adjournment until Tuesday, May 5th, because he needed time to prepare his case. After some discussion, Mr Justice Boreham agreed to the defence request, and the hearing was adjourned until May 5th.
(NOTE: Trial source material: Burn, Cross, Jones, Yallop, Daily Telegraph, London (Canada) Free Press, The Times, The Guardian.)