Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe’s mental disorder justified a minimum jail term of a “finite” number of years instead of an order than he should never be released, Court of Appeal judges have heard.
The submission was made by Edward Fitzgerald QC, representing Sutcliffe for his challenge against a High Court judge’s ruling that he must serve a “whole life” tariff.
Mr Fitzgerald told three judges in London: “We accept that the applicant was convicted of the brutal murder of 13 women and the attempted murder of seven others and, on the face of it, we accept that the number and the nature of the murders is such that would call for a whole life tariff.
“The sole submission in this case is that the disorder suffered, and still suffered by the applicant, is a sufficient mitigating circumstance to justify a long, finite term of years instead of a whole life tariff.”
He told the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, Mr Justice Calvert-Smith and Mr Justice Griffith Williams: “Can I just stress that, of course, the tariff only means the minimum term he must serve before he can apply for parole and it does not have any implications as to release.
“It just means that he would have the opportunity to put his case to the Parole Board.”
Sutcliffe, now known as Peter Coonan, is challenging a ruling by Mr Justice Mitting on July 16.
The former lorry driver, from Bradford, West Yorkshire, was convicted at the Old Bailey in 1981.
Sutcliffe, now 64, received 20 life terms for the murder of 13 women and the attempted murder of others in Yorkshire and Greater Manchester.
He is being held in Broadmoor top security psychiatric hospital after being transferred from prison in 1984 suffering from paranoid schizophrenia.