Peter Sutcliffe: Serial killer died days after Covid diagnosis

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Peter SutcliffeImage source, Rex Features
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Peter Sutcliffe was serving a whole life term for murdering 13 women

Serial killer Peter Sutcliffe died eight days after testing positive for Covid-19, an inquest has heard.

The 74-year-old, who was serving a whole-life term for murdering 13 women, tested positive for the virus on November 5 and died on 13 November.

The inquest heard Sutcliffe died at University Hospital of North Durham, having been transferred from HMP Frankland.

A full inquest into his death is due to take place later this year.

During a 15-minute hearing at Crook Civic Centre, the assistant senior coroner for County Durham, Crispin Oliver read an extract from Sutcliffe's post-mortem examination.

He told the inquest the prisoner, who changed his name by deed poll to Coonan in 2001, had previously suffered from diabetes and heart disease, known risk factors for Covid-19.

He had a pacemaker fitted on 2 November and there were no complications.

However, Mr Oliver said, "he continued to deteriorate" and on 12 November "was judged to be dying".

Following "full discussion with the patient", he said, Sutcliffe was transferred to palliative care, where he died at 01:45 GMT on 13 November.

The coroner said the post-mortem confirmed severe heart disease, including stenosis of three coronary arteries.

He added: "The main finding was very heavy, solid and airless lungs, highly typical of adult respiratory distress syndrome, this is a characteristic feature of individuals dying of Covid-19 infection."

His next-of-kin, ex-wife Sonia Woodward, had been in contact with the coroner's service but did not attend the hearing.

A full inquest into Sutcliffe's death is scheduled to take place on 7 May but may be pushed back to 18 June if a report by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, due on 8 April, highlights further issues.

Sutcliffe's murders across Yorkshire and Manchester between October 1975 and November 1980 terrified northern England and led to a huge manhunt and a botched police inquiry.

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