By Martin Hickman
An assault on the Yorkshire Ripper in Broadmoor psychiatric hospital would have become public knowledge regardless of a leak to The Sun, reporter Jamie Pyatt told a court yesterday.
The Sun printed an exclusive story about the gouging of Peter Sutcliffe’s right eye by a fellow patient inside the hospital in 2007 with the headline: ‘I’ll Blind Your One Good Eye.’
Sutcliffe, who carried out a string of murders, was blinded in his left eye by a patient wielding a jagged glass in an earlier attack.
Mr Pyatt told Kingston Crown Court that he had obtained news of the attack from Robert Neave, a healthcare assistant at Broadmoor, who gave him a string of stories from inside the high-security facility.
Asked about the public interest, Mr Pyatt told the court: “The Ripper by this stage had already been blinded in one eye and this was an attempt to blind him. The fact that he was seriously assaulted with a knife… what a knife was doing in Broadmoor…”
Richard Kovalevsky, Mr Pyatt’s lawyer, asked: “Anything confidential in this?”
“No, it’s not secret. The fact that this has happened to the Yorkshire Ripper would be talk of Broadmoor and the two pubs at the bottom of the hill. Something like this would not stay secret for very long.”
Mr Neave was the source of two other stories about the Yorkshire Ripper, including one about his wife, Sonia: ‘Sonia in 4 Hour Broadmoor Visit.’
Mr Pyatt said: “There is and always has been a fascination with notorious criminals. I don’t think there’s a year goes by when there’s not a book or TV programme on the Yorkshire Ripper and our readers have a fascination with him, rightly or wrongly.”
He went on: “It’s a bizarre situation with his wife – why anyone would want to stand beside a person who murdered 13 women, I don’t know.”
“Anything confidential about this?” asked Mr Kovalevsky, to which the reporter replied: “There’s nothing confidential.”
Another story originating from Mr Neave was about the prospects for Sutcliffe’s release: ‘Ripper: Let Me Out I’m Better.‘
Mr Pyatt told the court: “We knew it would be received with revulsion. I think Gordon Brown said it would not happen while he was in power. The reaction to the newspaper was immense… It was the main topic of radio discussion phone-ins the next day.
“Personally I thought this story was wasted on page 15.”
Earlier, Mr Pyatt said he would regularly exaggerate the quality of his sources in his expense claims. He had emailed Sun news editor Chris Pharo asking for £300 for a “police contact.” Mr Pharo said “police contact” was the type of language all journalists would use “to make our offices think we have better contacts than we have. “It was what was called at Leveson ‘source boosting’.”
Mr Pyatt, Mr Pharo and four Sun colleagues deny conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office. The case continues.