Medals of policeman that caught Yorkshire Ripper hoaxer Wearside Jack fetch hundreds at Sheffield auction

The Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe
The Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe

A set of police medals belonging to the detective sergeant who arrested the infamous Yorkshire Ripper hoaxer Wearside Jack have fetched hundreds of pounds at auction.

Det Sgt Stuart Smith's honours, along with a sheaf of newspaper cuttings, a Crimewatch DVD and a signed book about the Ripper murders were bought for £400 at the Sheffield Auction Gallery in Heeley.

Det Sgt Stuart Smith's medals

Det Sgt Stuart Smith's medals

Two bidders - one using the internet, and another on the telephone - went head-to-head to secure the items this morning.

The real killer, Peter Sutcliffe, was caught in Sheffield more than 35 years ago, bringing to an end a killing spree that resulted in 13 brutal murders.

But the capture of Wearside Jack, the mysterious hoaxer who claimed to be the Ripper and massively sidetracked the investigation by taunting police with bogus letters and a tape, did not come until 2005, when DNA from an original envelope matched the profile of John Humble, in Sunderland.

One of the leading officers in the search and conviction of Humble was DS Smith, of West Yorkshire Police. He arrested the conman at his home in the North East, and also helmed the interviews that brought about his confession, an achievement for which he received a commendation.

John Humble

John Humble

The auction lot included DS Smith’s long service and good conduct medals, and his honours from the Queen’s last two Jubilees in 2002 and 2012.

The hunt for Sutcliffe was directed by assistant chief constable George Oldfield, who suffered health problems as the inquiry progressed. He was hoodwinked into pursuing Humble’s missives as a genuine lead, leaving the actual murderer free to carry on killing.

The Ripper was arrested in Broomhill in 1981, and has been behind bars ever since. Humble’s DNA match came courtesy of a sample he gave police in 2000, when he was cautioned for being drunk and disorderly in an unrelated incident. He was charged with perverting the course of justice and jailed for eight years.

Auctioneer and specialist valuer John Morgan said the gallery was 'delighted' with the sale's outcome.

“This result goes to show how important the human story is behind the collectible medal market.”