£5 Bank of England note - The Yorkshire Ripper Inquiry

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Jean Jordan was murdered in the Greater Manchester Police area on the 1st October 1977. Her body was found on a disused allotment in Chorlton-cum-Hardy on the 10th October, nine days after her death.

An unusual and curious feature of this case was that there was evidence that the killer had returned to the scene some eight days after the murder, stripped the body and inflicted further injuries including an attempt to decapitate it.

On the 15th October, Jordan’s handbag was found 189 ft away from the body. It contained a new £5 Bank of England note which was thought to have been paid to the victim by the murderer. The recovery of this note some two weeks after the death marked a significant new stage in the series inquiry.

Chief Superintendent Ridgway of the Greater Manchester Police took charge of the investigation and recognised immediately the possibility of a link with the crimes in West Yorkshire.

Weight was added to this initial suspicion when it was discovered that the £5 note recovered from Jean Jordan’s handbag was probably from a consignment of £25,000 (i.e. 5,000 £5 notes) delivered to the Manningham, Shipley or Bingley branches of the Midland Bank on 29th September 1977. A team of detectives from Greater Manchester moved to the West Yorkshire area and, accompanied by West Yorkshire officers, undertook extensive inquiries to trace the person to whom the recovered £5 note had been paid.

The murder of Jean Jordan had occurred within three days of the banknote being delivered to the bank and attention was concentrated on firms in the Manningham and Shipley areas which had collected new notes from the bank to pay their employees that weekend.

On the 2nd November 1977 Detective Constable Howard of the Greater Manchester Police together with a Detective Constable of the West Yorkshire Police interviewed Peter William Sutcliffe at his home. Sutcliffe’s employers had collected money from the Shipley branch of the Midland Bank to pay their employees. Sutcliffe, who was one of nearly 8,000 people listed for interview during the inquiry, denied ever having visited Manchester except during the course of his employment and said that his last visit had been some twelve months previously when he had delivered goods to an unknown address.

Asked to account for his movements on the evening of the 1st October (the date of the Jordan murder) he said that he had been at home all evening and had gone to bed at 11.30 p.m. He was also asked about his movements on the evening of the 9th October when the murderer was known to have revisited the scene. He said that he and his wife had been at a house-warming party at their new home. Sonia Sutcliffe supported her husband’s account of his movements on both these dates.

After a number of new £5 notes from the Bank of England consignment were identified in the possession of people who could be eliminated from the inquiry it was possible to eliminate some firms as recipients of the "Jordan" note and thus to limit the scope of the inquiry. T. & W.H. Clark was not one of the firms which could be eliminated and on 8th November 1977 Sutcliffe was re-interviewed by Detective Constable Leslie Smith of West Yorkshire and Detective Constable Rayne of the Greater Manchester Police. He again satisfied the inquiry officers, who obtained further alibi evidence from his mother in connection with the house-warming party mentioned previously. They were at that time preoccupied with the £5 note aspect and did not examine Sutcliffe’s car or its tyres, although they did examine some footwear and household tools which they felt were relevant to the Ripper crimes.

On the 23rd November 1978 Peter Sutcliffe was seen again by Detective Constable Smith who obtained details of his Building Society account in connection with the £5 inquiry. Smith also visited the new owners of the red Corsair and obtained a description of the tyres, which were new, having apparently been fitted after the vehicle had changed hands.

During the autumn of 1979 senior detectives of the Greater Manchester Police decided to re-activate the £5 note inquiry in an attempt to detect the Jordan and Millward murders. With the full co-operation of the Bank of England and the Midland Bank they were able, by experiment, to eliminate several firms as possible recipients of the £5 note.

There had, of course, always been the possibility that the £5 note had been paid to a customer cashing a cheque at a bank but, on the balance of probabilities, it seemed most likely that the note had been included in money drawn for wages by one of only a few firms in the area. The total number of employees to be seen in this resurrected inquiry was a readily manageable 241. Sutcliffe was number 76 on the list, being 44th of 49 employees from the firm of T & W.H. Clark Ltd.

Before the people shown on the list were seen their names were searched against the nominal index in the Millgarth incident room to see whether they had been previously involved, other than in connection with the original £5 note inquiry. For some reason, Sutcliffe's name was marked "N/T”, meaning “no trace’.