Memento of 'Wearside Jack' investigation fetches hundreds at auction

A unique reminder of one of Sunderland's most notorious crimes has fetched hundreds of pounds at auction.

Friday, 22nd September 2017, 14:02 pm
Updated Friday, 22nd September 2017, 14:10 pm
John Humble at the time of his arrest

West Yorkshire Police Detective Sergeant Stuart Smith was one of the leading officers in the search, arrest and conviction of John Humble - the Yorkshire Ripper hoaxer dubbed ‘Wearside Jack.’

Sgt Smith not only arrested Humble at his Ford Estate home, but also oversaw the interviews that led to his confession, for which he received a commendation.

Sgt Smith's medals

His police medal trio, including his Police Long Service and Good Conduct medals, Queen’s Golden Jubilee medal and Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal 2012, were for sale in Sheffield today, along with newspaper cuttings, a summary of his Commendations, facsimile paperwork, Crimewatch DVD, letter of thanks and a signed copy of “Wicked Beyond Belief”, the full story of Humble’s identification, arrest and conviction.

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After considerable pre-auction interest, an Internet and telephone bidder went head-to-head, resulting in a final price of £400 (plus 21.6% BP).

Auctioneer John Morgan said: "This result goes to show how important the human story is behind the collectable medal market and we are delighted with the outcome of the auction."

John Humble sent police three letters and an audio tape, a hoax which saw detectives shift the focus of their manhunt from Yorkshire to Sunderland.

John Humble

The tape in particular, which directly taunted the head of the Ripper team West Yorkshire Assistant Chief Constable George Oldfield, convinced officers to focus their attentions on Wearside and hundreds of men were interviewed in an effort to find the man claiming ‘I am Jack.’

Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe was finally arrested in 1981. He had killed three more women while police focused their attentions on Sunderland.

A cold-case review ordered by West Yorkshire detectives turned up a fragment of the original envelope from the letter Humble had posted to the Daily Mirror in March 1978.

Detectives were able to obtain a sample of ‘Jack’s’ saliva and build up a DNA profile which they matched with a sample of John Humble’s DNA which had been placed on the police database in 2001, after his arrest over an assault.

Sgt Smith's memorabilia

Humble appeared at Leeds Crown Court in March 2006, when he admitted perverting the course of justice and was jailed for eight years..

Sgt Smith's medals
John Humble
Sgt Smith's memorabilia