January 19, 2007 / 1:07 AM / 13 years ago

"Wearside Jack" hoaxer fails to cut sentence

LONDON (Reuters) - The hoaxer nicknamed “Wearside Jack” whose taped messages and letters to the police helped throw them off the track in their hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper has failed in a bid to have his jail term shortened.

John Humble is seen in an undated police handout photo. Humble, whose taped messages and letters to the police helped throw them off the track in their hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper, has failed in a bid to have his jail term shortened. REUTERS/Handout

John Humble, 50, of Sunderland, had appealed against an eight-year sentence handed down at Leeds Crown Court in March for perverting the course of justice.

Humble’s counsel argued at the Appeal Court on Tuesday that not enough account had been taken of his client’s guilty plea and that he was a different man from the one who had carried out the offences more than 20 years ago.

Humble’s letters and messages distracted police during their investigation into a series of gruesome attacks on women.

Pretending to be the Ripper, he taunted police in a series of tapes for their inability to catch him. His Wearside accent led detectives to focus their hunt away from Yorkshire and on to Sunderland, delaying the arrest of the murderer Peter Sutcliffe who had gone on to commit three more killings.

Mr Justice Calvert Smith said the sentence may have been “severe”, but it was not excessive.

“The offence called for a very severe sentence,” he said in the court’s ruling.

“Although the sentence was indeed severe it cannot be said it was wrong in principle or excessive.”

Humble, a former labourer, was arrested after police came up with a match with DNA taken from him for a different and relatively minor offence.

The real Yorkshire Ripper was jailed in 1981. He was given 20 life sentences for killing 13 women and attempting to kill seven more.

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