Son of Ripper victim called Sutcliffe’s brother to ‘offer condolences’

By Megan Baynes, PA
·3-min read

The son of the Yorkshire Ripper’s first recognised victim said he reached out to the serial killer’s brother “to offer my condolences” after hearing the news of his death.

Richard McCann was only five years old when his mother, Wilma McCann, was murdered in 1975.

He revealed he had been in touch with one of Peter Sutcliffe’s brothers, Carl, following the news that the murderer had died in prison on Friday.

Mr McCann told the BBC: “I gave him a call when I got the news to offer my condolences.

“Carl Sutcliffe reached out to me many years ago when he read about my journey – he reached out to me with compassion and I felt the same.

“I know he obviously did some horrendous things but he was still his brother so I felt like I wanted to call him.”

He said news of Sutcliffe’s death had brought him “some degree of closure”, but he had never wished him dead and nor was he celebrating the news.

He said: “Every time we hear a news story about him, and my mum’s photo is often shown, it’s just another reminder of what he did.”

Mr McCann said “one positive” to come from Sutcliffe’s death is that “we’ll hear much less about him, and no more reminders about what happened all those years ago”.

Mother-of-four Ms McCann was just 28 when she was killed on playing fields in Chapeltown, Leeds, yards from her home.

Her son said he was left terrified after his mother’s death, and when Sutcliffe killed Jayne MacDonald, who also lived in his street.

Mr McCann said: “I was convinced as a child, having had no therapy of any description, that he was out there and that he was going to kill me.

“It really affected me. I was ashamed of being associated with Sutcliffe and all his crimes and, possibly, to do with the way that lots of people in society looked down, and the police and some of the media – describing some of the women as innocent and some not so innocent.

“I’m sorry to harp on about this but I’ve had to live with that shame for all these years.

“There’s only one person that should have felt any shame – although I doubt that he did – and that was Peter Sutcliffe.”

Mr McCann appealed to West Yorkshire Police to make a formal apology for the way in which his mother and other victims of Sutcliffe were described by officers in the 1970s.

Wilma McCann – First Yorkshire Ripper Victim
Mother-of-four Wilma McCann was just 28 when she was murdered by the Yorkshire Ripper 45 years ago (PA)

He said he wants the force “once and for all” to “apologise to the families, who are still around, for the way in which they described some of the women as ‘innocent’, inferring that some were not innocent – including my mum”.

He added: “I’d invite them to make that apology. They were innocent and it would set the records straight.

“I want her to be remembered as the mother of four children, the daughter of her parents.

“She was a family woman who, through no fault of her own, was going through adversity and made some bad decisions, some risky decisions.

“She paid for those decisions with her life.”

A West Yorkshire Police spokesman said: “We have received correspondence from Mr McCann and commit to continue to engage with him directly.”