Yorkshire Ripper hoaxer 'Wearside Jack' documents fetch £400 at Sheffield auction

Items related to the arrest of Wearside Jack, who pretended to be Peter Sutcliffe, fetched 400 at auction in Sheffield.
Items related to the arrest of Wearside Jack, who pretended to be Peter Sutcliffe, fetched 400 at auction in Sheffield.
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Documents, cuttings and medals connected to Yorkshire Ripper hoaxer 'Wearside Jack' have fetched £400 at an auction in Sheffield.

The infamous hoaxer tricked police hunting mass murderer Peter Sutcliffe with a series of letters and tapes goading officers at the height of the Ripper hunt - but the perpetrator was not unmasked until a quarter of a century after the 13 killings which shocked the nation.

While Sutcliffe was finally caught in the Broomhall area of Sheffield in 1981 and sentenced to life imprisonment, the hoaxer, dubbed Wearside Jack remained at large.

The mystery was finally solved in 2005 when a DNA match for saliva from an original envelope led police to John Humble in Sunderland.

Humble was arrested and jailed for his part in the hoax - and now documents and medals belonging to the police officer have sold in Sheffield today.

A spokesman for Sheffield Auction Gallery said: "After considerable pre-auction interest the battle ended this afternoon when an internet and telephone bidder went head to head over the ephemera, resulting in a price of £400."

One of the leading officers in the search, arrest and conviction of Humble was Detective Sergeant Stuart Smith of West Yorkshire Police.

Sgt Smith not only arrested Humble at his home in Sunderland, but also led the interviews that led to his confession, a point for which he received a commendation.

The full story of John Humble's identification, arrest and conviction can be found in the book - 'Wicked Beyond Belief' by Michael Bilton.

Sgt Smith's police medals - including his Police Long Service and Good Conduct medals, Queen's Golden Jubilee medal and Queen's Diamond Jubilee medal 2012, together with newspaper cuttings, a summary of his commendations, paperwork, Crimewatch DVD, letter of thanks and a signed copy of "Wicked Beyond Belief" were all up for auction.

Auctioneer John Morgan commented “this result goes to show how important the human story is behind the collectable medal market and we are delighted with the outcome of the auction.”

Sutcliffe killed 13 women across Yorkshire from 1975 to 1980 and the hunt for him was lead by Assistant Chief Constable George Oldfield.

But the investigation became side tracked by a series of letters and a tape from hoaxer “Wearside Jack” as he was nicknamed, who claimed to be the 'Ripper'.