THE taxpayer may have to pay part of the funeral costs for the Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe, following his death in hospital in Durham, on Friday.

But that will be dependent on whether or not his family make alternative arrangements.

The serial killer died, aged 74, at the University Hospital of North Durham, after being transferred there from nearby high security Frankland Prison, suffering symptoms of Covid, earlier in the week.

He reportedly refused treatment for coronavirus at the hospital, where he was admitted only two weeks earlier having suffered a suspected heart attack.

It has emerged following his death that up to £3,000 of his basic funeral expenses may have to be covered by the Prison Service.

A directive under the Prison Service Instruction guidelines states that prisons must offer to pay a contribution towards the “reasonable” funeral expenses for inmates who die while in custody.

Those “reasonable expenses” feature payment for a hearse, coffin, burial or cremation costs and funeral fees.

But there is a prohibition on the public purse meeting the cost of flowers, a headstone, obituary notice and wake.

Ministry of Justice directions state the only exception in which a contribution does not need to be offered is when the family of the deceased inmate has a pre-paid funeral plan, or if they have the entitlement to claim a grant from other Government departments.

It is reported that discussions are taking place with the family of the former lorry driver, from Bingley, West Yorkshire, over the funeral arrangements.

Sutcliffe, who preferred to use his mother's maiden name of Coonan, was serving a whole life term for murdering 13 women across Yorkshire and north-west England between 1975 and 1980.

He was convicted in 1981 and spent three decades at Broadmoor Hospital, in Berkshire, before being moved to Frankland, at Brasside, near Durham, in 2016.

According to reports, he had turned down treatment for the virus and was at risk of dying due to his age and health problems having become obese in recent years.

Sutcliffe was said to have a range of health conditions including heart trouble, diabetes and obesity.