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Arthur Hutchinson

Crime Files
Arthur Hutchinson

“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 HELLIn 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."Dick Copeman

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

The Aftermath

Chance of Freedom

In 2002, Hutchinson could have been free.By then, he would have served the 18 years the original judge gave him.And if the Parole Board had ruled him remorseful and no longer a threat, Hutchinson could now be free to walk the streets.It was only the intervention of the then Home Secretary that stopped this. By being given a whole life tariff, Hutchinson joined nearly 50 prisoners who can never be released unless the Justice Secretary decides to on compassionate grounds.NO REASON AT ALLIn 2007 the Court of Appeal kicked out Hutchinson’s domestic challenge to whole life tariffs. They rejected his appeal under the Human Rights Act and said there was ‘no reason at all’ to depart from it.INHUMAN AND DEGRADINGIn July 2013 European judges ruled that whole-life tariffs breached human rights. The Strasbourg court ruled that to be jailed without the possibility of parole was ‘inhuman and degrading.’The British government could not appeal their ruling:“To be told this breaches human rights is absurd...What about the rights of the victims and their families.”Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary

FEAR AND DISTRESSOn 21 August 2013 the convicted triple murderer and multiple rapist Arthur Hutchinson became the first ‘lifer’ to challenge his whole-life tariff under the new ruling.“You couldn’t get a better example of a case where life should mean life.”-Dominic Raab, MPThe 73-year-old Hutchinson was again in the headlines and attracting the attention he so desperately craved. This was deeply upsetting to the familes of his victims.In an attempt to put their past behind them the surviving members of the family left the area. On hearing of Hutchinson’s appeal, a spokesperson for them said;“Whenever even the name Arthur Hutchinson rears its ugly head, it does nothing but create fear and distress to the victims of this heinous crime...Let the Human Rights judiciary members be thrust into our position for just a day and maybe they would understand this.”However, some, like Janet Crowe, of the Penal Reform Trust believe that prisoners need the hope of reform:“If a prisoner has no hope and they feel they have nothing to may make them far more dangerous to work with inside the prison.”If Hutchinson was to be successful, others like Ian Brady could challenge their whole-life terms. Hutchinson’s victims are not alone in believing Hutchinson must die in prison:“He should be on the list and he should STAY on the list.”-Diane Simpson, Behavioural Psychologist

The Trial

Justice Catches up with Arthur

“...a deliberate and repetitive liar...He has no concept of the truth.”-Prosecuting CounselFor the first time ever in a British murder trial, the jury are shown a police video of the scene. The seven-minute tape replays the scenes of horror.The evidence against Hutchinson is formidable. Hutchinson had at first denied being at the house at all. Dr Geoffrey Craig testifies that the bite marks left in the cheese in the fridge exactly match Hutchinson’s.So Hutchinson, loving the attention the court gives him, changes his story. His defence might be considered laughable if it wasn’t trying to cover his brutally horrific crimes.

"There's your Killer"

On 11 September 1984, in Durham Crown Court, Hutchinson points to a reporter from the Sunday Mirror and accuses him of the murders. Hutchinson constructs a story where the young woman he raped had consented to have sex and the reporter ‘and others’ had murdered the family. Hutchinson explained that his prints were on the champagne bottles because he had picked them up to use as ‘weapons’ against the reporter.Hutchinson is asked why he had originally claimed to have been nowhere near the house and had now changed his story. Hutchinson claimed the reporter had been threatening his beloved mother:“That man there (pointing to the reporter in the gallery) has been going to my mother’s house every week for the past 10 months and I was frightened for her. I wanted to get the truth out...There’s your killer.”Someone who is truly frightened is Hutchinson’s surviving rape victim. She bravely testifies and withstands a cross examination that suggests sex was consensual. In the near four hours she is in the witness box, she never once looks at Hutchinson. Hutchinson is seen to occasionally smile as she gives evidence.On 14 September 1984, a jury of six women and six men find the 43-year-old Hutchinson guilty of the murder of three people and the rape of a teenage girl.The Judge rules that he should serve 18 years.After the conviction, his beloved mother realises her son is a liar, a rapist and a murderer. Press reports say she vows never to see him again.“He’s pitiable. But his actions make pity very difficult.”-Diane Simpson, Behavioural PsychologistThe then home secretary, Leon Brittan later rules Hutchinson should face the whole-life tariff and should never be released.“Many of the criminals that I’ve dealt with have had feelings of remorse and of regret to a large extent the actions they’ve committed...Arthur Hutchinson didn’t have… those sort of feelings.”-Mick Burdis, Detective Chief Inspector, South Yorkshire Police

The Arrest

On the Run

The housing estate where Hutchinson grew up has nearby woodlands. Police believe it’s the most likely route he’ll take:“To get to his mother’s, Arthur would have to come through the field area...There’s so many abandoned farm buildings… wooded areas where anyone could hide with ease.”-Dick Copeman, Detective Chief Inspector, Cleveland Police5 November 1983 is a cold, misty day.Hundreds of police and dogs flood the areaAs the light starts to fade, the police intensify their searches trying to flush Hutchinson out. Hutchinson believes his injured knee urgently requires medical treatment. He can’t risk hospital and hopes that his mother will make it all all right.

What he doesn’t know is that the injury isn’t as deadly as the police have made him believe.A local farmer, George Bailes goes out to feed his dogs and check on his cattle:“And when I went back inside the wife says ‘did you see him?’And I said ‘see who?’And she said ‘Hutchinson’”Hutchinson breaks for home. He runs along the hill and straight to his mother’s house. Sensing the huge deployment of manpower sent to corner him, he hides in a copse. Police dogs soon flush him out.He pulls out his knife and makes a final run for home. Fittingly, it is the pursuing dog section that takes down the self-styled ‘Fox.’Perhaps even more fittingly, in the ensuing struggle to apprehend him, Arthur ‘The Fox’ Hutchinson stabs himself with his own knife.If Hutchinson hadn’t really needed medical help before, he does now.Britain’s most wanted man is taken away in an ambulance.The hunt that spanned 39 days and 9 counties ended just a stone’s throw away from his mother.“I knew that he’d go back and see his mother because he had nowhere else to go. He was a mammy’s boy see?”Dino Reardon, Hutchinson’s half brotherTaken to Stockton Police office, Hutchinson is allowed to see the mother for whom he’d risked all. The days and nights of living rough had not been kind to him.“She explained that she didn’t even recognise him as being her son. He’d changed his appearance so much.”Dick Copeman

The Investigation

Justice catches up

“I was working in my office in the middle of Sheffield and received a call to say that some bodies had been found in a house by workmen who had returned to remove a marquee following a wedding function.”-Mick Burdis, Detective Chief Inspector, South Yorkshire PoliceThe marquee workmen had arrived to dismantle and pack up. Instead, they find a young woman in a state of near total psychological collapse and evidence of a bloodbath:“...when eventually we did find the three bodies they had suffered very, very severe and very savage injuries.”-Mick BurdisThe father’s body is found by the stairs. Upstairs, they find the body of his wife by the side of the bed. Their son is nearby.On one of the beds, the forensics team find a bloodstain that looks like it has seeped through the criss-cross of a bandage.Alongside the forensic investigation, the police use the relatively new technology of videoing to capture the scene.But the list of potential suspects is huge:“We had about four hundred people connected with the actual wedding...And the people involved in catering and in photography and all the rest of the trappings that go on with weddings. So we had very, very rapidly developed an enormous enquiry.”-Mick Burdis

News of the wedding killings spread quickly: The fact that the man responsible isn’t known spreads fear. An incident room is set up in the village hall. Forensic officers expand their search in the hope of finding anything that might indicate the killer.The only surviving witness is in severe shock. But as the only eyewitness, her description of the killer is crucial. Vic Brough, an artist, is brought in to get a likeness of the killer:“She was really traumatised. Sometimes you have to switch off...And I just got my head into the drawing. And that was it. I just did it.”The portrait he draws shows a man with curly hair and a slightly bent nose.The woman also adds that the killer drunk and ate from the leftover food.From the bed, the police have the killer’s blood. Now from the champagne bottle, they have a print. And from the cheese, they have a bite mark.But without a computerised database, such forensic evidence is only useful to secure a conviction.The police still needed a suspect with which to match the forensics.Then a police colleague from North Yorkshire rings Mick Burdis to say he thinks they’re looking for the same man. The detective says a rapist in Selby had escaped while attending court. The man’s name: Arthur Hutchinson.Hutchinson’s mug shot matches the artist’s impression.The police now have detailed knowledge of who they were after.But knowing who he is doesn’t mean they’re any closer to knowing where he is.“We’d now got a man who’d been on the run for a few weeks. We’d no idea where his connections were and his locations were.And where he was hiding.”-Mick BurdisSo the police take the unusual step of releasing Hutchinson’s picture:“It was almost like the Wild West. You had the police issuing a photograph of Hutchinson...stressing how dangerous he was...Suddenly he was catapulted from being a small time petty crook to being the most wanted man in England.”-Alan Whitehouse, Reporter Yorkshire Post


But becoming public enemy number one doesn’t scare Hutchinson. He loves the attention. But the realisation that a sadistic killer and serial rapist is at liberty creates a siege mentality in some communities:“The fear spread like a ripple.... You saw women afraid to go out by themselves. Changing their routines, changing their habits. Having boyfriends and husbands pick them up from work. Exactly as happened during the hunt for Peter Sutcliffe.”-Alan WhitehouseSouth Yorkshire Detectives believe Hutchinson’s bolted from their area. Now every policeman is on the lookout.

“I, THE FOX...”In case Hutchinson doubles back and seeks refuge in the woods near the housing estate where he grew up, Cleveland’s Detective Chief Inspector Dick Copeman sets up surveillance.Copeman and his colleagues have caught Hutchinson the petty criminal many times before. But now they’re trying to catch a killer. And as Copeman knows, Hutchinson is more than capable of fending for himself:“He always had this thing about survival training, hiding himself out in the countryside.”In fact, being a keen allotment user in the past, Hutchinson takes to stealing other people’s produce from their plots and gardens rather than fending for himself off the land. And rather than sleep rough, he uses disguises, and stays at pubs and guesthouses.The public are asked to ring in if they suspect anything or come across any hideouts. The hunt is on.But instead of keeping a low profile, Hutchinson goads the police by writing a letter to the press. Hutchinson denies the allegations against him and tells the media to stop reporting on the hunt through the countryside for him.In it, he also starts referring to himself as, ‘I, The Fox...’“This nickname that he gave himself, ‘The Fox’...For someone to give themselves a nickname, that’s just so unusual...this is clearly important to him. This aura, this identity that he’s building around were dealing with...somebody who perhaps wasn’t entirely in touch with the real world.”-Alan WhitehouseThe letter is sent to behavioural psychologist Diane Simpson. She has extensive experience of analysing the writings of some of Britain’s most dangerous killers. Simpson suggests that the force with which he presses the pen into the paper shows he clearly loves the attention:“This was a letter constructed to parade himself...This is someone totally focused on what he wants to do...with no thought of repercussions. Only focused on what he wants to do. Like a missile.”And then Hutchinson rings the newsdesk of the Yorkshire Post and speaks to a reporter. Hutchinson says he’s able to come and go at will and had been in and out of Doncaster four times.Hutchinson is building on his self-image of being untouchable, almost invisible.“I sleep by day and I travel at night. So I’m not going to give myself up.”Arthur Hutchinson 


Hutchinson thinks the police are no closer to catching him. They are, in fact, laying the perfect trap for ‘The Fox’.First, they play on Hutchinson’s fears that the knee injury he’d sustained in his escape could be serious:“During one of the broadcasts that we gave to the media we indicated that this injury to his leg may well be tingling, may well be causing him trouble, and it could well become gangrenous. And then he could lose the limb and probably die."Mick BurdisSecond, they play on Hutchinson’s attachment to his mother:“He did seem to gravitate back towards his mothers whenever he was in trouble.”Dick Copeman, Detective Chief InspectorAnd now Hutchinson is in real trouble.The police tap his mother’s phone.At 4 o’clock in the morning, the police listen to him saying he’s coming home.The fox had gone for the bait. Now 400 police officers close in.

The Crimes

They call some people animals...animals? I don’t know…But… he was inhuman

Vic Brough, criminal sketch artist

THE WEDDING DAY MURDERSDore, South Yorkshire is an affluent suburb of Sheffield situated on the edge of the Peak District. It’s an area equally loved by tourists and locals.

It’s Saturday 23 October 1983. Hutchinson’s been on the run for three weeks.He’s mobile but his injured knee still bothers him. He is now fifty miles south of the Selby Court from which he escaped.He enters the village of Dore.

“We’ve never really understood why Hutchinson went there of all the places he could have done. He’d no reason to go there.”Alan Whitehouse, Yorkshire Post Reporter

Two very happy parents are hosting a wedding reception in their garden. They couldn’t be more proud. Just a few hours before they’d witnessed the marriage of their daughter. Now everyone is gathered in a marquee in their garden.Among the many happy friends and family is the bride’s 28-year-old brother. He hopes to follow his mother’s career and become a doctor. Also present in the house is an 18-year-old woman.

Despite the autumnal date, the rain stays away and the sun shines for wedding photos outside. In one, the father of the bride is wearing tails and holds a drink. The bride’s mother sports a bright orange dress and fascinator. It’s impossible to tell which of them is happier.Later, they all wave their daughter and her husband off on their honeymoon.And as the last guests leave, they make a start at clearing up. Father puts on his pyjamas and mother prepares for bed.

Ever the opportunistic criminal, Hutchinson enters through a faulty patio door.He stabs the couple’s son to death first.

“It didn’t matter who got in his way because he would destroy them”Mick Burdis, Detective Chief Inspector, South Yorkshire Police

His father hears a commotion and investigates. At the top of the stairs, Hutchinson stabs him three times. The father’s body falls down the stairs.Hutchinson enters their bedroom. Mother tries to resist. But Hutchinson’s attack is so savage, there is only one possible outcome. One of the family will be found to have tried to stop the stabbing by grabbing the blade. Instead, the blade slices to the bones of their fingers.

“...this is somebody who is not only capable of breathtaking violence...he literally revels in his cruelty...Hedonistic and entirely callous.”Kerry Daynes, Forensic Psychologist

Hutchinson then turns his attention to the 18-year-old female who is also in the house. At knifepoint, he makes her walk downstairs, stepping over the body of the older man. He then ties her up. His T-shirt is stained with the blood of the family. Resistance would be fatal.He repeatedly rapes her.Why he leaves this last witness alive will never be explained.

What is known is that at some point he is on her bed upstairs. As he kneels on it, his injured knee starts to bleed and it seeps through the bandage staining the bed.

Once he has finished, Hutchinson helps himself to champagne and cheese.He then discards the bottle and puts the cheese back in the fridge.He leaves his rape victim tied up and exits.

Arthur Hutchinson is about to become the most wanted man in Britain.

“He was an insignificant man who felt that he’d not had the chances in life that perhaps he should have had and this was a way of drawing attention to himself...and when he got it, he revelled in it.”Alan Whitehouse, Yorkshire Post Reporter