UK's Yorkshire Ripper Appeals Life Sentences

A 64 year old man diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia years ago is appealing the 20 life sentences he received in 1981. Peter Sutcliffe, known as the “Yorkshire Ripper”, was convicted for brutally murdering 13 women in the UK and attempting to murder several more in Yorkshire and Greater Manchester.

The High Court judge, Mr. Justice Mitting, who presided over his case years ago, ordered that Mr. Sutcliffe was never to be released from prison. The judge stated that this man caused “widespread and permanent harm to the living” and “terrorized the population of a large part of Yorkshire for several years” due to “anger, hatred, and obsession”.

Three years after Mr. Sutcliffe, now known as Peter Coonan, was convicted and sent to prison, psychiatrists determined that he suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. He was then transferred to the Broadmoor psychiatric hospital, an institution with top security. He has been there ever since.

His first murder was in 1975. At that time he attacked a woman with a hammer, reportedly due to his belief that God had sent him on a mission to kill prostitutes. He was nicknamed the “Yorkshire Ripper” because he used a knife, a sharpened screwdriver, and a hammer to mutilate the bodies of his victims.

He was been willingly accepting treatment for several years now, and psychiatrists have reportedly stated that his disorder has been “successfully contained” for many years.

This is an interesting story because the majority of individuals who suffer from paranoid schizophrenia do not become violent. However, those that do are often experiencing grandiose and / or paranoid delusions. The belief that God is giving orders to do harm to others can be very compelling with dire consequences. The Yorkshire Ripper is an extreme example of this sort of delusion.

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