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FOUND.. HOAXER WHO LET RIPPER KILL AGAIN; Police close to Wearside Jack.

Byline: STEPHEN WHITE

DETECTIVES are poised to arrest Wearside Jack, the hoaxer who posed as Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe.

The 59-year-old man, believed to be living in a London shelter for the homeless, sent detectives letters and two tapes during the hunt for the Ripper.

Sutcliffe, 54 - now serving life for murdering 13 women - described the tapes as "divine intervention" which left him free to carry on killing while detectives followed a false trail. The hoaxer was nicknamed Wearside Jack after analysts narrowed his accent down to a small area of Sunderland.

He was named to police by a viewer who saw the recent ITV drama about the Ripper.

Wearside Jack is suspected over the 1975 murder in Preston of Joan Harrison who was originally thought to be a victim of the Ripper.

Experts are now re-examining the tapes using the latest technology.

They hope to enhance background noise and pick up any other previous recordings on the cassettes.

The tapes were sent to George Oldfield, Assistant Chief Constable of West Yorkshire, who has since died.

The hoaxer taunted: "I'm Jack. I see you have no luck in catching me."

Lorry driver Sutcliffe was interviewed nine times by police but his voice did not match that of the man on the tape.

It is thought the hoaxer did live in Sunderland for a period and was seen drinking in a pub in Preston at the same time as Joan Harrison on the night she disappeared.

Her killer has never been caught. The man was interviewed by police in the 1970s but there was insufficient evidence to charge him.

CAPTION(S):

HUNT: Police chief Mr Oldfield listening to tape and, right, Sutcliffe
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 26, 2001
Words:281
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