Dennis Hoban: What Happened to the Yorkshire Ripper Detective?

Dennis Hoban// Image Credit: peter masterson/YoutTube

ITV’s British biographical crime drama show, ‘The Long Shadow,’ explores the stories of the people who fell victim to the Yorkshire Ripper’s brutal crimes spanning from 1975 to the early 80s. At the story’s center remains Dennis Hoban, the first detective to receive the case assignment, who poured his best efforts into delivering justice to the ruthless killer who ruined many lives. Thus, the show follows each murder as it unfolds and the police investigation that ensues as a result of the same.

For the same reasons, as Dennis Hoban and his impressive career once again return to the center of the population’s attention, it’s bound to raise interest in the detective’s life. Moreover, viewers must be curious to know about the legacy Hoban left behind following his death, as well as the details surrounding his ultimate demise. SPOILERS AHEAD!

Dennis Hoban Passed Away Due to Medical Complications

Peter Sutcliffe, perhaps better known by his serial killer alias, “The Yorkshire Ripper,” was caught by the authorities in 1981. However, Dennis Hoban, one of the first police officers who suspected Sutcliffe’s murders to be an interconnected serial killing spree, was not around to see him arrested for his crimes. Unfortunately, the man died three years ago at the untimely age of 51. His passing occurred in March of 1978 as a result of his diabetic condition.

Born and raised in Leeds, Hoban dropped out of school at the age of fourteen. Nevertheless, he never let his lack of qualifications prevent him from pursuing his passion. Thus, the man entered the West Yorkshire Police force, rising through the ranks in his career, from Detective to Detective Chief Superintendent, until he saw an appointment as the head of the Leed Crime Investigation Department. In his personal life, the man was married and had two sons.

One of his sons, Richard Hoban, has often discussed his father with the media, affirming that speaking about Dennis Hoban remains a cathartic experience for him. In fact, the man was in conversations with ITV during the film’s development to help them infer a more authentic account of the 70s-80s when the authorities were investigating the Yorkshire Ripper case. At the time, Dennis was one of the first officers who took the early killings of sex workers seriously in his investigation.

As such, some memories, such as the Hoban family Christmas, where Dennis would ask his kids to donate two of their gifts to the less fortunate— and annually left for work despite the festive season— made it into the series. “He’d be taking calls at all hours and getting hardly any sleep,” Richard told Metro Co. UK. in a conversation about his father’s dedicated work ethic. “He’d work seven days per week, and even when he was on holiday, he was itching to get back to Leeds.”

The Detective’s son also shared other stories from his father’s career— outside of his involvement in the Sutcliffe’s case— recalling an instance where he defused a time-sensitive bomb. “He [Dennis Hoban] raced down there, found it [the bomb] in the gents’ toilet but was told the bomb squad was two hours away and the bomb was due to go off,” said Richard Hoban. “Armed with a pair of pliers and a very rudimentary knowledge of electronics, he took a gamble, pulled out one of the wires, and defused the bomb – my mother went wild when she realized how much danger he had placed himself in, but that was him all over.”

Dennis’ dedication to his duty remained evident in his pursuit of the Yorkshire Ripper, even if his time ran out before the latter could be caught. According to Richard, Dennis would often forget to eat in accordance with his diabetes, leading his blood sugar to lower dangerously to the point of a potential attack, which required emergency sugar intake. “What I did know is how much the Sutcliffe case consumed him, and in the end, that took its toll,” Richard said.

The day that Dennis Hoban died, hundreds of people participated in a procession from the Hoban house in St Anne’s Lane, Kirkstall, to Rawdon Crematorium. The memorial service, held at St Anne’s Cathedral, saw similar attendance from tons of people who wanted to pay their respects to the beloved officer. Even the criminal fraternity respected Dennis Hoban so much as The Yorkshire Post ran an In Memoriam notice for the man, which read, “To the copper we were proud to be nicked by.”

Read More: The Long Shadow: Here Are All The Production Locations