Peter Sutcliffe died from Covid-19 in prison, inquest reveals

The inquest into the death of Peter Sutcliffe revealed he died from Covid-19.

Thursday, 23rd September 2021, 10:46 am
The 74-year-old had been warned he was a prisoner vulnerable to coronavirus by the authorities at Frankland Prison, but declined to shield.

The coroner, Crispin Oliver, said he hoped his death would allow his victims to "better rest in peace" as he recorded a death of natural causes.

The 74-year-old had been warned he was a prisoner vulnerable to coronavirus by the authorities at Frankland Prison, but declined to shield.

The coroner was told Sutcliffe died aged 74 at the University Hospital of North Durham at 1.45am on November 13 2020.

His health had deteriorated and he had been transferred four times between the prison’s healthcare unit and hospital in the days leading up to his death.

Mr Oliver said: “Peter Sutcliffe is now dead, he died a natural death having received good medical care.

“Obviously I think of his family at this time, but (my thoughts) also return to those women whose names I read out at the opening of this inquest last November – they were his victims.

“My continuing best wishes go to their families, loved ones and friends.

“Speaking to the victims’ families, loved ones and friends, I hope you have some sense of closure at this point and that your loved ones, the victims, may better rest in peace now that Peter Sutcliffe is dead.”

Sutcliffe, who changed his name to Coonan, was serving a life sentence at HMP Frankland for the murders of 13 women in the 1970s, and was suffering from diabetes, kidney and heart disease.

He was first taken to hospital after feeling dizzy on October 27 and being diagnosed with a blocked heart.

He returned to Frankland on November 4 and it was after this first hospital stay that he tested positive for Covid-19.

Prison governor Lee Drummond said Sutcliffe went in and out of hospital in the coming days, before being admitted a final time on November 10.

He said vulnerable prisoners had been warned of the dangers of the virus when the country locked down in March last year and were offered measures similar to shielding, being kept apart from other inmates at meal times and to use the phone separately, but Sutcliffe had declined.

Sutcliffe, who arrived in 2016 after being held at Broadmoor secure psychiatric hospital, was a category A prisoner and was held on Alpha wing – “a more relaxed environment” for prisoners with mobility issues.

Pathologist Dr Clive Bloxham, appearing via video, said his post-mortem examination revealed Sutcliffe had “extremely heavy lungs” – typical of someone with coronavirus.

He said the cause of death was Covid-19 infection, with heart disease and diabetes contributing.

He confirmed the death was not suspicious and was from natural causes.