A FORMER detective who worked on the Yorkshire Ripper inquiry and later had the satisfaction of putting ‘Wearside Jack’ behind bars has spoken out following the hoaxer’s death.

Police confirmed that John Humble, the notorious hoaxer, drank himself to death, aged 63.

His death certificate is believed to name a cause of death as heart disease and ‘chronic alcohol misuse’.

Unemployed Humble tricked police into believing he was the Yorkshire Ripper in three letters and an audio tape, leaving the real Ripper - lorry driver Peter Sutcliffe, from Heaton, Bradford - free to kill three more women.


Chris Gregg, who headed the Force’s Homicide and Major Enquiry Team before his retirement in 2008, was put on front-line duties in the Yorkshire Ripper inquiry as a rookie constable.

Thirty years later, he saw Humble convicted after years of evading justice.

Mr Gregg said: “He involved himself in something that was none of his concern or business.

“He held a grudge against the police and that’s the likely cause of why he involved himself and, in many respects, it’s another chapter that closes on the case which hopefully is another piece of closure for the victims’ families.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: John Humble, AKA Wearside Jack, was imprisoned for diverting attention from Yorkshire Ripper Peter SutcliffeJohn Humble, AKA Wearside Jack, was imprisoned for diverting attention from Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe

“I worked on four of the Ripper cases as a young detective, so I have first-hand knowledge of the carnage and the fear the killer spread around this region - so an extremely difficult case was made more difficult.

“He contributed to the derailing of the investigation at a crucial point.

“Three women lost their lives after he sent those letters.

“No one can know whether those lives could have been saved if he had not involved himself.

“His intervention did nothing but harm to the investigation.”

Humble was finally snared when his DNA, taken after a minor offence, was matched against saliva on an envelope sent to detectives.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Police at the house in Sunderland from where Humble was arrestedPolice at the house in Sunderland from where Humble was arrested

Sentencing him to eight years imprisonment in March 2006, the Recorder of Leeds, Judge Norman Jones QC, said one of the features which may have contributed to Sutcliffe remaining at large for so long was Humble’s hoaxes.

Mr Gregg said: “I always felt, having being involved in four of the investigations, that it was a piece of the jigsaw that was missing, that for many, many years it was unsolved and it needed to be sorted out once and for all.

“It was extremely important for all concerned, for the families of the victims, for the police service, for the community in Yorkshire, just to know who this person was who had done this.

“It was a great deal of satisfaction.

“I know that in a very small way there were crumbs of comfort that this individual who had involved himself through no good reason was finally behind bars.”

It is reported that after Humble was released in 2009, he was moved to South Shields, South Tyneside, and given a new identity, John Samuel Anderson.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: John Humble during a police interview. Picture: West Yorkshire PoliceJohn Humble during a police interview. Picture: West Yorkshire Police

He died at his home on July 30.

The Telegraph & Argus’ court reporter Jenny Loweth was in court when Humble was jailed.

She said: “It was really chilling to hear him in the dock speaking, naturally, with that Wearside Jack voice that people of my generation had been brought up hearing on the television.

“It was a strange feeling to be at that hearing when the hoaxer was finally in court because nobody ever thought they would get him.”

“He didn’t say a lot during the hearing but it was chilling to hear that voice.”

Richard McCann’s mother, Wilma McCann, was the first woman murdered by Peter Sutcliffe.

He told the Telegraph & Argus: “Like everybody else, as a child of nine or ten I was exposed to this sound, and I sat rigid in my chair thinking I was listening to Mum’s killer.

“I was fearful of men who spoke with a Geordie accent, and it is what I lived with as a child.

“It was a voice that for many years I associated with Peter Sutcliffe.

“When he was arrested, I thought; better late than never.

“It shouldn’t have gone on for so long, and it was right he was arrested and jailed.

“It was horrible and appalling what he did, but there is still only one person to blame for the deaths of those three women, and that’s Peter Sutcliffe.

“It was another sad part of the series of events that took place, and I’m sorry for his family that he drank himself to death.”