Thursday, 15 May 2008

‘My human rights have been breached’, claims Yorkshire Ripper in first bid for freedom

By STEPHEN WRIGHT - 14th May 2008

Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire RipperPeter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper, is challenging his sentence

Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe is making a legal bid for freedom on the grounds his human rights have been infringed, it emerged yesterday.The 61-year-old, who butchered 13 women and tried to kill at least seven more during a five-year reign of terror, believes he is sane and should be released from Broadmoor top security hospital.

In an extraordinary twist, he is being represented by a female lawyer, Saimo Chahal, who will argue that the Home Office disregarded his human rights because they failed to fix a tariff for his sentence.

A tariff is the minimum length of time that a prisoner is supposed to serve to satisfy the demands for “retribution and deterrence”.

Miss Chahal believes the serial killer, who smashed victims over the head with a hammer and mutilated them, has been misrepresented through ‘untrue’ claims about him and his offences.

When the ex-gravedigger was sentenced to 20 life sentences in 1981, he was told by the judge that he would serve a minimum of 30 years.

But Miss Chahal, who specialises in civil liberties and social welfare as a partner at London-based Bindmans & Partners, believes this tariff was never formalised.

Sutcliffe began his sentence in prison but three years later was diagnosed with schizophrenia and was transferred to Broadmoor Hospital.

Miss Chahal intends to argue Sutcliffe’s case in stages.

First she aims to get him back into the prison system and has requested a reassessment of his psychiatric condition.

A profile of Miss Chahal on the firm’s website confirmed that she acts for Sutcliffe and added: “The Secretary of State is in breach of Article Five of the ECHR (European Court of Human Rights) in failing to set a tariff.”

Miss Chahal was named Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year in a 2006 poll for “repeatedly pushing the boundaries of the law on behalf of those with mental illness”.

According to a report on legal website the Black Lawyers Directory, Sutcliffe’s case was referred to Ms Chahal by another solicitor because she “takes on difficult cases”.

The report said: “For Saimo this case raises the issue of how we treat mentally ill people who have committed heinous crimes and she is concerned that there is a huge amount of information in the public domain about this case that is simply untrue.”

Sources said she is confident of securing Sutcliffe’s release by 2011 - a prospect which will strike fear into women.

Olive Smelt, who survived after Sutcliffe attacked her with a hammer as she returned to her Halifax home after a night out in 1975, declined to comment.

But her husband Harry said: “He didn’t give the victims many human rights did he? I’m too old to be appalled I just find it irritating.”

“It is water off a duck’s back as far as Olive is concerned. When you reach a certain age all that matters is waking up in the morning, putting your feet on the floor and getting on with it.”

He added: “He’s where he belongs and that’s it. I don’t think he should be locked up in Broadmoor, it should be a normal prison.”

Starting by killing prostitutes, Sutcliffe he went on to launch attacks on women - mainly prostitutes - at random in the streets of northern England.

Many women in Yorkshire and Manchester were too frightened to go out.

After six years he was arrested by chance in a red light area of Sheffield.

The trial judge ruled he should serve at least 30 years, but Home Secretaries have subsequently said he should never be released.

In 2001, Sutcliffe claimed that psychiatrists at Broadmoor, where he is held, now consider he is no longer a danger.

The Legal Services Commission said Sutcliffe had NOT been awarded legal aid to fund his freedom bid.

A senior police source: “His legal action will be fiercely opposed by the authorities. He remains a grave danger to the public, especially if he does not take appropriate medication. He should remain behind bars for the rest of his life.

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