Yorkshire Ripper survivor left with broken jaw and by serial killer

She was lucky to escape with her life after being brutally attacked by the Yorkshire Ripper.

But Mo Lea amazingly refuses to brand Peter Sutcliffe "evil" – despite being left with a broken jaw, fractured cheekbone and cracked skull after he hit her with a sharpened screwdriver.

Sutcliffe died in prison last November after being diagnosed with Covid-19. He never admitted attacking her and Mo accepts she will now never get "closure".

In a new documentary, Surviving A Serial Killer, she says: "I’ve had to learn to live with the fact that will never happen and I’m used to that. I’m used to not ­having any closure on it.

"Is he evil? I don’t think it’s that black and white. I think he was driven by all kinds of psychotic reasons to do what he did and the outcomes and the situations and the murders were evil but him as a person? I really can’t answer that."

Sutcliffe murdered 13 women between October 1975 and November 1980.

He attacked vulnerable women, specifically those he thought to be sex workers.

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His first victim was 28-year-old Wilma McCann, who was hit with a hammer and stabbed 15 times.

Another victim was 16-year-old schoolgirl Jayne MacDonald – he mistook her for a ­prostitute as she took a shortcut through the red light district of Leeds.

Mo, from Liverpool, was a 20-year-old art student when Sutcliffe pounced in October 1980.

She had met up with friends to plan her 21st birthday ­party a few days later and was walking through Leeds University’s Headingley campus to get her bus home.

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She was approached by a man who called out a friendly greeting. Aware of the Ripper’s reign of terror in the area, Mo thought it was maybe a friend who wanted to check she was safe.

"He was so friendly," says Mo. "But then I realised I didn’t know this chap and I thought: 'This is not good'. I realised I was in danger.

"As soon as I began to run really quickly his footsteps were behind me getting quicker.

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"All I remember was getting this ­massive whack on the top of my head."

Luckily some students heard her scream and came to her rescue. Sutcliffe fled and Mo woke up in hospital with no real idea what had happened to her.

While police briefly questioned her, it was not until she was recuperating at home that she realised she had been ­attacked by the man she had met.

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Her ­injuries were severe. Mo says: "The blow to the top of the head left quite a large dent and crack in the top of my skull.

"Inside my mouth was all cut because I’d bitten where the jaw had cracked through my tongue, I had two puncture wounds at the top of my neck below my skull and cuts and bruises on my knees and elbows where I’d fallen to the floor.

"But no-one sat me down and said: ‘Do you realise what’s happened to you? Do you know who it was? Could you describe that person?’ until days before I left ­hospital and I gave a very brief statement to a visiting police officer."

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Mo believes West Yorkshire Police didn’t take her seriously as they were "embarrassed" another victim had emerged when they had proved unable to catch the killer.

A 1981 report later heavily criticised their handling of the ­investigation. Sutcliffe claimed his final victim, Jacqueline Hill, a month after he ­attacked Mo. Two months later he was arrested in the red light district of Sheffield.

Mo recognised the man who attacked her from TV news footage.

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But, as the Ripper was known for targeting sex workers, she played down her ordeal for fear of being labelled a prostitute.

She explains: "I felt deeply ashamed. There was still that conversation that he was ­cleaning the street of prostitutes, that if you were out alone you were asking for it.

"If I started to play it up and ask questions about why I was attacked, people might say I was a prostitute.

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"So I thought I’m not even going to talk about it much. I wanted justice but I was happy to sacrifice justice for having a life without that label.”

Mo graduated from art school and went on to teach at the University of Bedfordshire. She even managed to draw Sutcliffe in 2015 for a TV documentary.

That year West Yorkshire Police reopened her case and other possible Ripper attacks but found insufficient evidence to charge him.

Former lorry driver Sutcliffe died in hospital after ­refusing treatment for Covid-19.

He had spent three decades at Broadmoor Hospital after being diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

Years of counselling have helped Mo "keep a lid" on what happened to her.

●Surviving A Serial Killer airs ­tomorrow (Sunday) at 10pm on More4.

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