May 14, 2008
In 1981, Peter Sutcliffe, now 61 years old, was sentenced to 20 life terms as the Yorkshire Ripper, responsible for the murder of 13 women and the attempted murder of seven others. When he was sentenced, the judge in the case told Sutcliffe that he would serve a minimum of 30 years. However, there was apparently no formal declaration of that minimum term, called a “tariff” under British law.
Now one of Britain’s top lawyers, Saimo Chahal, is arguing that the omission is grounds for Sutcliffe’s release, claiming his human rights have been violated. Chahal was named Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year in 2006 for her work in behalf of those with mental illness. Her association with the Yorkshire Ripper stems from the fact that three years after beginning to serve his sentence in prison, Sutcliffe was diagnosed with schizophrenia and was transferred to the Broadmoor high security psychiatric hospital where he has remained ever since.
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