Peter Sutcliffe, the convicted serial killer known as the Yorkshire Ripper, refused to be protected in prison in the months before he died of the coronavirus, an inquiry has heard.
Sutcliffe had been warned he was vulnerable to Covid-19 by authorities at Frankland Prison near Durham.
The coroner, Crispin Oliver, was told that Sutcliffe, who changed his name to Coonan, died on November 74 at the age of 74 at North Durham University Hospital.
The serial killer was serving a life sentence in Frankland for the murders of 13 women in the 1970s and was in poor health. Oliver, sitting in Crook, Durham County, was also told that Sutcliffe had heart disease and diabetes, both risk factors for Covid-19.
Lee Drummond, a prison governor, said vulnerable prisoners had been warned of the dangers of coronavirus after the first lockdown in March 2020.
Drummond said they were offered measures equal to protection in the community, kept separate from other inmates when eating and using the phone, but Sutcliffe refused the offer.
The coroner concluded that Sutcliffe died a natural death without suspicious circumstances. While delivering his findings, he addressed the families of the victims and wished them “some sense of closure”.
He said: “Of course I’m thinking of his family at the moment, but [my thoughts] also go back to those women whose names I read aloud at the opening of this survey last November – they were his victims.
“I hope you have a sense of closure at this point and that your loved ones, the victims, can rest in peace better now that Peter Sutcliffe is dead.”
The serial killer was first brought to the hospital on October 27 after he was dizzy and was diagnosed at the health care unit of the prison with a blocked heart.
He returned to Frankland on November 4 and it was after this first hospital stay that he tested positive for Covid-19.
A prison nurse, Angela Spence, said Sutcliffe was being treated with antibiotics for a cough and that his health was deteriorating and that he had a rapid heartbeat.
A pathologist, Dr Clive Bloxham, appearing via video link, said his postmortem examination revealed that the prisoner had “extremely heavy lungs” – typical of someone with the coronavirus. He said the cause of death was Covid-19 infection, with heart disease and diabetes contributing, and confirmed that the death was not suspected and was of natural causes.