A CORONER has paid tribute to the many victims of the Yorkshire Ripper following his death.

Earlier today, the inquest opened into the death of the serial killer at Crook, County Durham.

Sutcliffe died last Friday, after reportedly refusing treatment at the University Hospital of North Durham.

He was serving a whole life term for murdering 13 women across Yorkshire and north-west England between 1975 and 1980.

The Yorkshire Ripper was convicted in 1981 and spent three decades at Broadmoor Hospital before being moved to HMP Frankland in County Durham in 2016.

Senior assistant coroner Crispin Oliver, opened proceedings into the death of the 74-year-old this morning.

A post-mortem examination took place on November 17, which found his death was caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome - a viral respiratory illness caused by coronavirus.

Sitting at Crook Coroner's Court, Mr Oliver said: "It's my usual practice as coroner to express a sense of solidarity and support for the family of the deceased and of course I do however, in this case it is appropriate that my solidarity and support also goes to the families and friends of the following women: Wilma McCann, Emily Jackson, Irene Richardson, Tina Atkinson, Jayne MacDonald, Jean Jordan, Yvonne Pearson, Helen Rytka, Vera Millward, Josephine Whitaker, Barbara Leach, Marguerite Walls and Jacqueline Hill. Also to Anna Rogulskyj, Olive Smelt, Tracy Browne, Marcella Claxton, Marilyn Moore, Upadhya Bandara, Mo Lea, Theresa Sykes and at least one other woman whose identity was never officially established."

Sutcliffe had a range of conditions including heart trouble, diabetes and obesity, it was reported.

Detective Inspector Claire lambert, from Durham Police, gave evidence at the opening.

She said: "On November 10, police were first made aware that Sutcliffe was transferred from Frankland Prison to the University Hospital of North Durham. It was reported to us that he had been seriously ill and over a period of weeks spent a lot of time in medical care before being transferred to the hospital.

"We were made aware that his death was a result of natural age-related health problems and pre-existing medical conditions."

Mr Oliver adjourned the inquest for mention to February 1, 2021.