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Ripper hoaxer pleads guilty.

THE man behind the notorious "Wearside Jack" hoax pled guilty yesterday to perverting justice by pretending to be the Yorkshire Ripper.

Alcoholic John Humble, 50, will be sentenced today.

Humble led police on a wild goose chase by posing as the Ripper in three letters and on a cassette tape.

The tape, in which Humble sneered at police in his Sunder-land accent, horrified the nation when it was played at a televised news conference in 1979.

Leeds Crown Court heard yesterday that up to 500,000 police man hours were wasted as the hunt for the Ripper focused on the Sunderland area.

Sutcliffe murdered three of his 13 female victims after Humble sent his first letter. Detectives quizzed him during the hoax campaign, but he was discounted as a suspect because his accent didn't match the one on the tape.

When Sutcliffe was finally caught, he said of the hoax: "While that was going on I felt safe."

Some believe Humble's actions left Sutcliffe free to kill.

But others believe the cop leading the hunt, assistant chief constable George Oldfield, blundered disastrously by failing to spot that the letters were fake.

Humble confessed at an earlier hearing that he sent the letters - two to police and one to a newspaper - as well as the tape.

He claimed he had not intended to deceive, and should be convicted only of the lesser offence of wasting police time.

But yesterday, he pled guilty to four counts of perverting the course of justice.

Jobless labourer Humble was obsessed with the 19th century Jack the Ripper murders.

He sent the letters and tape in 1978 and 1979, and was finally nailed last year after a police cold case squad found traces of his DNA on an envelope he used.

Humble was so drunk when he was arrested that police had to tell him he where he was. When he sobered up, he claimed he wrote the letters out of "boredom".

Neighbours told how Humble and his brother Harry spent their days guzzling cheap cider in their squalid council house in Flodden Road, Sunderland.

The pair were known locally as the Smelly Brothers. One resident said: "They were always getting picked on by kids, who would even rifle their pockets in the street."

CAPTION(S):

SNEERING: Humble
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 21, 2006
Words:382
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