Jim Hobson: What Happened to the Yorkshire Ripper Investigator?

Jim Hobson// Image Credit: peter masterson/YoutTube

‘The Long Shadow,’ an ITV crime drama show, dramatizes the events surrounding the Yorkshire Ripper investigation that overtook England during the mid-1970s to early 80s. However, instead of focusing on the central ruthless killer, later revealed to be Peter Sutcliffe, the show centers around the serial killer’s victims, penning the tragedy of their stories. Likewise, it brings attention to the inner workings of the British Police Force as they continued looking for the killer over the span of the next five years.

Consequently, Jim Hobson, introduced as Dennis Hoban’s junior, who goes on to take command of the investigation, emerges as a memorable character within the show. Therefore, given the story’s real-life roots, fans may grow curious about the actual man behind Lee Ingleby’s character. As such, one must be compelled to wonder about the real-life Detective’s life and its ultimate end.

Jim Hobson Passed Away In 2023 Due to Medical Complications

Born in Gipton, Leeds, on April 6, 1927, James “Jim” Hobson showcased an early aptitude for the law enforcement sect. After leaving school at 16, with no qualifications other than his Sea Cadet experience, Hobson joined the Royal Navy. Interestingly, the man served alongside Prince Phillip shortly after the royal was appointed the Duke of Edinburgh in 1947. During his time with the Navy, when he sailed to Murmansk on convoys, Hobson earned a medal from the Russian Embassy for his service.

It was 1951 when Hobson joined the Yorkshire Police Force, rapidly rising through the ranks in his career. By the mid-1970s, after working under Dennis Hoban for a while, Hobson held the position of Detective chief superintendent. As such, even before he headed the investigation against the Yorkshire Ripper, the Detective was closely involved in the inquiry team.

The investigation into the Yorkshire Ripper case ran long and tiring, partly due to the magnitude of the killer’s crime at a time before the computerization in the force. In fact, according to reports, Millgarth’s major incident room had to require reinforced floors because of the weight of the paper records. Nonetheless, over time, the investigation has also garnered critique for the police’s perceived callous treatment of the victims’ deaths stemming from their prostitution backgrounds.

In a 1979 press conference, a year before Hobson’s promotion to expedite the investigation, the Detective gave a statement after student Barbara Leach’s death wherein he stated, “[The murderer] has made it clear that he hates prostitutes. Many people do. We, as a police force, will continue to arrest prostitutes. But the Ripper is now killing innocent girls.” For the same reason, many believe Hobson, alongside other detectives involved in the case, may have lacked effort if they believed the victims deserved their cruel fates.

Regardless of the same, the authorities apprehended the killer, Peter Sutcliffe, shortly after Hobson’s promotion on a slight stroke of luck. After getting stopped in Sheffield due to false number plates, Sutcliffe saw an interrogation at the West Yorkshire police station, where he confessed to the crimes.

Eventually, years later, Hobson, the lead detective on the Sutcliffe case, retired with an impressive career behind him, commended by chief constables and judges for his work on several occasions. Professionally, he was remembered for his no-nonsense attitude and dedication toward the Sutcliffe case. In fact, even after his retirement, the man continued his interest in the case and kept up with crime novels and adaptations related to the killer.

However, Hobson was not a fan of ‘The Long Shadow,’ claiming it wasn’t satisfactorily accurate. His grandson, Franco Pardini, shared some of his grandfather’s opinions in a conversation with the Yorkshire Evening Post and said, “Having sat down with him after watching [The Long Shadow], he [Hobson] said there was a lot of artistic license and mistakes [in the program].”

Apart from his connection to Detective work and the Yorkshire Ripper case, Hobson enjoyed crown green bowling, remaining an active member of the Rotary Club in Wetherby. Professionally, the former detective headed security at a chain of shoe shops. Eventually, on December 12, 2023, Hobson passed away at St. James’ Hospital due to ongoing gallbladder complications.

While Hobson’s wife Joan, whom he married in 1950, died in 2010, he’s still survived by their daughter and her family, including Pardini, his grandson. Pardini remembers the detective with fond respect. “My grandfather was an old fashioned, stiff-upper-lip kind of man,” he shared, reminiscing about Jim Hobson. “You didn’t mess with him.”

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