Halifax victim of Peter Sutcliffe dies at 82

A brave smile: Olive Smelt with daughter Julie Lowry
A brave smile: Olive Smelt with daughter Julie Lowry
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HALIFAX’S surviving victim of the Yorkshire Ripper has died aged 82 having lived with the horror of that fateful night since 1975.

Olive Smelt was struck twice on the head with a hammer and had her body slashed by the maniac who went on to murder 13 women.

Her family said she never recovered and relied heavily on them for support.

Mrs Smelt, of Haley Court, Boothtown, died unexpectedly on Wednesday in Huddersfield Royal Infirmary after contracting pneumonia. She had previously collapsed and fractured her hip. Her daughter Julie Lowry, also of Boothtown, said: “She never got over that night in 1975. She did well to survive and had to learn to accept what happened mentally. But physically her mobility was never the same.

“She has been through hell and suffered in pain in silence. She never complained.”

Mrs Smelt also leaves another daughter, Linda, and son Stephen, who also live in Halifax.

“We are all really sad at the moment. Mum was thoughtful and caring and was my world,” said Mrs Lowry. “May she rest in peace now.”

Sutcliffe, a lorry driver, of Bradford, was convicted of killing 13 women and seven attempted murders betwen 1975 and 1981 when he brought terror to the north of England. Some of his victims were prostitutes but his two Halifax victims were not.

Bank worker Josephine Whitaker, 19, was murdered on April 4, 1979, in Savile Park.

Sutcliffe attacked her with a hammer and screwdriver.

Mrs Smelt was his second victim during his reign of terror. She had been drinking in the Royal Oak in Halifax and was targeted by Sutcliffe who was also in the pub.

As he drove home towards Bradford with a friend he noticed Mrs Smelt and stopped the car and told his friend, Trevor Birdsall, to wait.

He approached her then viciously assaulted her near her home in Woodside Road.

He was disturbed and fled, returning to the car up to 20 minutes later.

After reading about the attack, Birdsall had his suspicions but did nothing.

Sutcliffe was arrested in Sheffield in 1981 with a prostitute in his car. The investigation had been waylaid after police were sent hoax letters and a tape which sent them looking for a man in the north-east.

Sutcliffe (now known as Peter Coonan) has since lost appeals against his whole-life jail term - decisions which the Smelt family fully support.

“We definitely don’t want him out,” said Mrs Lowry.