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Fewer women might have been killed by Yorkshire Ripper if police listened to one woman

Fewer women might have been killed by Yorkshire Ripper if police listened to one woman

The Long Shadow airs tonight and follows the flawed investigation into the Yorkshire Ripper murders

Peter Sutcliffe may have been stopped earlier if police had listened to one woman, it's been claimed.

Between 1975 and 1980, Sutcliffe brutally murdered at least 13 women, attacking seven more, across the north of England.

The murders sent shockwaves through the country, with people terrified, praying they weren't next.

A new seven-part series starts tonight (25 September), following the flawed investigation into the search for the so-called 'Yorkshire Ripper'.

Speaking to TYLA about The Long Shadow, director Lewis Arnold said there were clear failings during the early part of the search, the most glaring involving Marcella Claxton.

The 20-year-old was was attacked by Sutcliffe while on her way home from a party in May 1976.

Luckily, she managed escape and contact the police, providing a perfect description of her attacker, which was then used to create a photofit.

Marcella Claxton's story is shown in The Long Shadow.

However, Marcella's story was discounted by the detectives, who instead insisted that it was a Black man who attacked her and not their suspect.

"The big one for me is if Marcella's photofit had not been ignored by the men in charge at that point, would it have led to a different outcome," Arnold says.

"If they taken her account seriously, and believed her and looked - particularly post Irene Richardson's death which connected her story - if they'd taken her seriously, would things have taken a different course?"

A lot of the criticism aimed at the police came after Sutcliffe - who died in 2020 - was finally caught in January 1981, with many picking out faults during the latter stages of the investigation.

But it was Marcella, Arnold says, who could have helped bring the murders to an end much sooner, had she been listened to.

The mistakes made by the detectives in charge of the Yorkshire Ripper investigation may have cost more lives.

"There were other things earlier," says Arnold, "that could have been done differently that might have given it in a different direction. And maybe, you know, many more women might not have been attacked."

He adds: "That [Marcella's story] was something that when we finished it, I felt, having spoke to a lot of people who knew the case quite well, it was always an element that they felt had been underrepresented, you know, in all the documentaries and things post his capture, it's always an element that had been kind of under served in some ways.

"And I feel like Marcella has always had a rough ride in terms of representation in terms of how she's been described. And I'm hoping that we've put her truth forward in this."

The Long Shadow starts on ITV at 9pm tonight (25 September).

Featured Image Credit: ITV

Topics: True Crime, UK News, TV And Film, ITV