Peter Sutcliffe, who later used the name Peter Coonan, was jailed for a whole life term in 1981 after murdering 13 women and attempting to murder seven more. He died in hospital in the early hours of November 13, 2020. A report by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman has shed light on the circumstances that surrounded his death.
Sutcliffe’s post-mortem examination found that his death was caused by Covid pneumonia.
It is reported that he could have caught Covid while in hospital.
Four days before his death, after he returned to prison from a ward, Sutcliffe suffered bouts of diarrhoea and vomiting and had a low oxygen saturation rate.
His kidney function was found to have deteriorated due to this, meaning he was sent back to hospital on November 10.
His state did not improve over the next three days and he died.
Report author Sue McAllister of the PPO stated the healthcare Sutcliffe received was “equivalent to that which he could have expected to receive in the community”.
But she noted a number of concerns.
Among these were the fact healthcare staff failed to include “crucial information” about his medical condition in his escort risk assessment, leaving authorising managers incapable of making “informed decisions on whether it was justified to restrain him”.
Ms McAllister wrote: “Although most of the prison’s liaison with Mr Coonan’s next of kin was of a good standard, we are disappointed that he could not talk directly with his next of kin when he was dying.
“Prison staff had to act as messengers for their personal messages.”
His ‘next of kin’ is reported to have been his ex-wife, Sonia Sutcliffe.
In his later years, Sutcliffe, a former lorry driver, went by the name Peter Coonan.
Ms McAllister noted that, during the investigation of Sutcliffe’s dying moments, few seemed willing or able to provide information.
Staff and prisoners at HMP Frankland, where Sutcliffe spent the last years of his life, were issued notices asking for relevant information.
Ms McAllister wrote: “No one responded.”
Sutcliffe’s next of kin was also asked if they wanted any particular matters to be considered in the investigation.
Here again, Ms McAllister wrote: “They did not respond to our letter.”