A FORMER detective who worked on the Yorkshire Ripper inquiry and later had the satisfaction of putting “Wearside Jack” behind bars has spoken out following the hoaxer’s death.

Police confirmed that John Humble, the notorious hoaxer, drank himself to death, aged 63. His death certificate is believed to name a cause of death as heart disease and “chronic alcohol misuse”.

Humble had taunted West Yorkshire Police’s assistant chief constable George Oldfield, who was leading the Ripper inquiry, about his failure to bring the killer to justice. It sent police, believing their target had a Sunderland accent, on one of the biggest wild goose chases in British criminal history.

Humble sent hoax letters and and a two-minute voice recording to police probing the Ripper’s murders across Yorkshire, Lancashire and Great Manchester in the 1970s and early 1980s

They interviewed 40,000 suspects, but ruled out the real killer, Peter Sutcliffe, who was questioned nine times, because he spoke with a Yorkshire brogue.

It is estimated Sutcliffe murdered three more women, having already killed ten, during the period between March 1978, when the Wearside Jack hoax began, and his arrest in January 1981.

Sutcliffe, 73, who now uses the name Peter Coonan, was convicted of murdering 13 women and attempting to kill seven more. He is serving 20 life sentences at Durham’s Frankland Prison.

Humble evaded justice and was only caught in 2005 during a cold-case review, when his DNA, taken after a minor offence, was matched against saliva on an envelop sent to detectives.

He was jailed for eight years after pleading guilty to perverting the course of justice.

The infamous recording was made by Humble using his brother’s cassette recorder in his family’s council house in Sunderland.

Chris Gregg, who headed the West Yorkshire Police Homicide and Major Enquiry Team before his retirement in 2008, saw Humble convicted. Mr Gregg said: “He involved himself in something that was none of his concern or business. He held a grudge against the police and that’s the likely cause of why he involved himself and, in many respects, it’s another chapter that closes on the case and hopefully it’s another piece of closure for the victims’ families. Three women lost their lives after he sent those letters.

“No one can know whether those lives could have been saved if he had not involved himself. His intervention did nothing but harm to the investigation.”

Humble was released in 2009 after serving half his sentence and moved to South Shields under the new identity of John Samuel Anderson. He died at his home on July 30.

Richard McCann, whose mother, Wilma McCann, was the first woman murdered by Peter Sutcliffe, said: “It was horrible and appalling what he did, but there is still only one person to blame for the deaths of those three women, and that’s Peter Sutcliffe.

“It was another sad part of the series of events that took place, and I’m sorry for his family that he drank himself to death.”