Arthur Hutchinson was the UK's most wanted man in 1983. He went on the run after a rape and murder spree which devastated a family on their daughter's wedding day.
“His mother Louise always said that he was her favourite son.”
Dick Copeman, Detective Chief Inspector.
Arthur Hutchinson was raised by Louise on the edge of the Hartlepool housing estate, Owton Manor. Louise thought he could do no wrong though perhaps she felt protective to her most vulnerable.
Arthur’s half-brother Dino Reardon remembers their 1940s childhood a boy that was always struggling to keep up:
“He was backward you see...everybody used to take the mickey out of him...he was trying to prove something all the time.”
Whenever he overstepped the mark, he always returned to his mother, and she always forgave him.
This relationship would eventually prove his undoing.
“His taste for violence started early; at age seven, he had stabbed his sister.”
The Casebook of Forensic Detection, Colin Evans
In his early teenage years, Arthur got work as a farmhand and he would later be a keen allotment user. But hope that the young lad was showing a work ethic soon evaporated:
“Roundabout seventeen years old he started committing petty crime. Theft of motor vehicles… changing the licence plates on vehicles… just a bit of a jack the lad. Nothing to make him a stand out from a lot of other petty criminals.”
Dick Copeman, Detective Chief Inspector
Copeman had 20 years police experience in Cleveland. Little suggested Hutchinson was anything other than a repeat petty offender. He was perhaps destined to spend his life going through the revolving doors of the court and prison service; but nothing more.
But George Jobson worked with Arthur and he always felt uneasy around him:
“There was an undercurrent all the time. And you could tell he wasn’t… he wasn’t genuine...that inwardly he was violent.”
Arthur took to hanging round the village armed with a large five foot stick.
And he started acting in a predatory manner around the local girls. When George asked him to control himself, Arthur threatened George and revealed why he carried his stick:
“He said he could kill me with one blow.”
Arthur’s petty crime career continued. His record ranged from vehicle thefts to burglaries.
And his bad boy image was irresistible to some:
“I can only say what I saw...I don’t know what it was but he had a lot of women. They were queuing up.”
Dino Reardon, Arthur’s brother
But his charming ‘ladies man’ image was all surface.
FROM HERE TO HELL
In 1968, after a string of relationships, Arthur settled down and married a local woman. His inner self soon showed:
“For two weeks, the first two weeks, he was charming...But...he could change...And he just turned...and I was terrified.”
Thirty years later, his ex wife still wants to remain anonymous:
“(He) kicked me from here to hell...I’m his wife. He used to rape, rape and rape me. That’s what he did.”
His wife survived three years before she could take no more and the marriage collapsed.
Arthur’s convictions escalated in severity. He was convicted for a number of sexual assaults.
He then served five years for carrying firearms and for threatening his brother.
He had only been recently released from this when, in 1983, he was arrested and put into custody for a brutal rape.
But he was never tried for this offence.
On 28 September 1983, Hutchinson went to Selby Magistrates Court. But for Arthur, the freedom to do what he wanted was everything. There was no way they were going to send him back to jail:
“I was given to believe that he asked to go to the toilet. He was allowed to go to the toilet… and then jumped out of a toilet window."
Arthur jumped out of the second floor window but cut himself on barbed wire during his escape. It slashed and injured his knee. This injury would blight his freedom.
He was now on the run. He avoided helicopter and police searches by hiding in gutters and bushes. He later said he survived by eating dandelions and roots. Arthur wanted freedom at any cost.
“This is someone who’d switched off the humanity. All he thought of was what he wanted, he would take.”
Diane Simpson, Behavioural Psychologist