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Son who was just five when his mother became Yorkshire Ripper’s first victim reveals how he wanted to kill him in revenge but after speaking to Desmond Tutu learned to forgive Peter Sutcliffe
- Richard McCann spoke of his hatred for Peter Sutcliffe until he learned to let go
The son of the Yorkshire Ripper’s first victim Wilma McCann revealed how he had plotted revenge on the depraved serial killer before speaking to Desmond Tutu and learning the power of forgiveness.
Richard McCann said he had hated evil Peter Sutcliffe until he eventually learned to let go.
Speaking on Good Morning Britain about the moment he learned of Sutcliffe’s death in 2020, he said he didn’t celebrate it, but the next day ‘things felt different’ and like ‘something had been released – something beautiful somehow’.
When asked if he’ hated his soul’ by presenter Richard Madeley, Mr McCann admitted, ‘I did. Me and Sonia plotted revenge.
‘She was going to write to him and befriend him then go visit him and go kill him – that was how we thought all those years ago, but I’ve been on a bit of a journey for the last 48 years and I let go of the anger and the need for revenge in 2010 when I met Desmond Tutu and spoke about forgiveness and I decided to let go of that and forgive.
The tragic final days of Wilma McCann, 28, and Sutcliffe’s second victim Emily Jackson, 42, will be re-told in ITV’s The Long Shadow which is airing across seven episodes
Sutcliffe would go on to kill a further 11 women and attack several others
Richard McCann spoke about his journey towards finding forgiveness and learning to let go
Mr McCann said it was Desmond Tutu who taught him about forgiveness
‘Desmond Tutu’s words were ‘you can’t force a person to forgive another but when it occurs it can change a situation’.
‘I thought, I can’t change my mum’s death, I can’t bring her back but I can change how it impacts on me and I let it go.
‘I didn’t become his friend incidentally. I used to think forgiveness was for the other person, it’s not. Forgiveness is for you, to let go of the anger and need for revenge.’
Asked if we’d still have had capital punishment in the eighties and Sutcliffe had been hanged how he’d feel now, Mr McCann said he feels that would have been the wrong thing to do.
The son of the Yorkshire Ripper’s first victim earlier paid tribute to his mother as an ITV drama recalling the hunt for Peter Sutcliffe aired last night.
The tragic final days of Wilma, 28, and Sutcliffe’s second victim Emily Jackson, 42, will be re-told in The Long Shadow across seven episodes.
The women were murdered in Leeds three months apart in late 1975 and early 1976. Sutcliffe would go on to kill a further 11 women and attack several others.
Tweeting just minutes before the programme aired, Mr McCann said: ‘Not sure why I feel so nervous about the airing of the ITV drama The Long Shadow starting in a few minutes.
‘Thinking of you mum more than I ever have for years as people get to see you showing love for your children.’
Richard McCann said he had hated evil Peter Sutcliffe until he eventually learned to let go
Tweeting just minutes before the programme aired, Richard McCann said: ‘Thinking of you mum more than I ever have for years as people get to see you showing love for your children’
Wilma, who was a mother-of-four, was brutally murdered just 100 yards away from her house on October 30 1975, after Sutcliffe hit her with a hammer and stabbed her 15 times in the chest, neck and abdomen.
Read more: Who were the 13 Yorkshire Ripper victims killed by Peter Sutcliffe? Remembering the women who lost their lives
The young woman, from Scott Hall in Leeds, will be portrayed by Gemma Laurie, while Sutcliffe’s second victim will be depicted by Katherine Kelly.
The murder of Wilma, who was a sex worker, came after Sutcliffe had attacked three women that same year.
The women – Anna Rogulskyj, Olive Smelt and Tracy Browne – had all miraculously escaped with their lives.
On the night of October 29, McCann had said goodnight to her children and then headed out drinking.
She was seen at four pubs – including the Regent and White Sawn – drinking whiskies an beer.
Later in the evening, she ended up at a drinking club, where she continued consuming alcohol.
Having left the club very drunk after 1am, she staggered around looking for a lift home and was seen by Sutcliffe, who stopped his car and picked her up.
Wilma McCann’s children. From left to right: Richard (then five), Sonje (then seven), Angela (three), and Donna (four)
The sex worker was attacked and brutally murdered just 100 yards away from her house on October 30, 1975. Sutcliffe hit her with a hammer and stabbed her 15 times in the chest, neck and abdomen. Her body was found in Prince Philip Playing fields. Above: The site where Wilma’s body was found
Police search for Wilma McCann, the Yorkshire Ripper’s first victim
He parked his car near Prince Philip Playing fields and, after suggesting that they have sex on the grass, attacked and killed her.
The first episode of The Long Shadow opens with Wilma’s children waking up to find their mother gone.
Viewers then see the moment her body is discovered.
Detective Chief Superintendent Dennis Hoban – aware that women of ‘loose morals’ may not inspire public sympathy – is seen opting to direct public attention to Wilma’s role as a mother.
However, it would ultimately be more than five years before Wilma’s killer was caught.
Sutcliffe then carried on life as normal with his wife Sonia.
Sutcliffe murdered 13 women between 1975 and 1980. He also attempted to take the lives of several more
He would go on to tell police: ‘After that first time I developed and played up a hatred for prostitutes in order to justify within myself a reason why I had attacked and killed Wilma McCann.’
Speaking in 2020, Wilma’s son Richard criticised the way police had described his mother and some of Sutcliffe’s other victims.
‘My mum was more than just a ‘good time girl’ or a ‘woman of loose morals’, as she was described by the police,’ he said in a video.
‘I hate the things that they said about some of the women, including my mum.
‘It’s like they seem to forget the person behind that black and white mugshot that I hated for years.’
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