Thursday, 6 March 2014

Carol Wilkinson. Was She A Ripper Victim?

Recent speculation has emerged that Peter Sutcliffe may have committed many more attacks than has previously thought.  The shit hit the fan with retired cop Chris Clark announcing that Sutcliffe may be linked to 17 other homicides around the country.  Naturally, this provoked anger from local Police.  But think about it.  Lorry drivers travel around the country, they get about.  Is it logical to assume that he would not attack some woman if the opportunity presented itself, because he is not in the north?  One case Mr Clark has looked at, is the October 1977 murder of Carol Wilkinson, for which Anthony Steel spent 20 years in prison before his conviction was overturned in 2003.  What happened to Carol?

    Carol Wilkinson lived on the Ravenscliffe Estate in Bradford, and was walking to work at a nearby bakery, in October of 1977.  20 year old Carol never made it.  She was found near the bakery, battered.  A paving stone was the weapon,and Carol was put on a life support machine, which was switched off 3 days later.  It was now murder.  Cops ruled it out as a Ripper killing, due to 3 reasons. Different weapon, time of day and victimology.  Let us have a look at them.  Wrong type of weapon.  How about opportunity?  Improvising.  A brick is as good a weapon as a hammer.  Time of day.  It was early in the morning.  So what.  Does a killer rigidly stick to an MO, ala "Criminal Minds?"  Victimology.  Carol was not a prostitute.  Did it matter?  She was a handy victim.  These do not prove Sutcliffe was the attacker but reports have emerged that Sutcliffe knew the estate, with some people alleged to have chased him from the estate. Seven hours before, Sutcliffe had returned to attack the body of Jean Jordan in Manchester.  Did he go on the prowl before going to work, scouting out a potential victim?  Possibly.  The case ran cold until 18 months later, when a man appeared on the Police radar.

    This man was Anthony Steel, a young man from Ravenscliffe.  He allegedly confessed to it but later retracted it.  At Leeds Crown Court, this made no difference and he was jailed for life, protesting his innocence.  Calls over the years to review the case and conviction did not move things along, even with the Rough Justice TV show questioning aspects of the case.  Finally, in 2003, Mr Steel had his conviction quashed, an apology from the Chief Constable of West Yorkshire, and compensation of £100,000.  Mr Steel died in 2007, aged just 52.  Rough Justice revealed inaccuracies in his "confession" and psychological tests revealed that he was of low intelligence, vulnerable highly suggestible.  Before he died, Mr Steel told a filmmaker that he was relentlessly questioned- "You did it, we can prove it, etc" He claims that he was assaulted by officers, and repeatedly told him "Sign this, you'll go home, get bail, etc" and that they wrote out the confession and browbeat him into signing it.  This was before the days of PACE (Police & Criminal Evidence Act) but in some cases these days, that act apparently does not come into it, depending on the cops involved.

    The case bore similarities to the murder of Yvonne Pearson in 1978, which was originally ruled out as a Ripper murder, but later included.  Again, in this case, did Sutcliffe improvise?  Not using a hammer meant that he did not actively seek a victim because he did not have his tools but a potential victim did materialise, so he used what heavy weapon he could lay his hands on.  It also explains the lack of stab wounds.  That is if it was Sutcliffe.  Chris Clark has opened a nasty can of worms that I believe some Police wish would just go away.  Here, two victims need the truth, the families of Carol Wilkinson and Tony Steel.