Yorkshire Ripper victim survived after killer beat her with hammer on walk home

A woman who was brutally attacked by the Yorkshire Ripper but survived to tell the tale has revealed how she conquered her demons.

Mo Lea was just 20 years old when she was attacked by notorious serial killer Peter Sutcliffe as she walked home from the pub.

She had been planning her 21st birthday with friends when the group went their separate ways and Mo made the journey back to her university campus.

Speaking to Liverpool Echo 40 years after the ordeal, she explained how she took a short cut before hearing a "friendly" voice behind her and realising she was in danger and started to run.

The then-art student said she heard footsteps get faster behind her and then felt a whack to the back of her head.

Mo woke up in hospital the next day and had a fractured skull, fractured cheekbone, a broken jaw, a puncture wound to the back of her skull and many cuts and bruises.

She told the Echo her injuries were so bad her parents didn't recognise her at first due to the fact she had two big black eyes.

At the time, police said Sutcliffe had used a hammer to beat her head in and used a screwdriver to try and sever her spinal cord.

Mo learnt a brave couple intervened in the attack, saving her life, after they spotted the Ripper bent over her on the floor, prompting him to run away.

She said: "What they did saved my life."

On her 21st birthday, medics operated on her jaw, and Mo spent a further two weeks in hospital before she was allowed home to Liverpool to recover.

Two months later, Sutcliffe's identity emerged and his face began to appear in the media, which caused Mo a lot of distress.

She said: "I went into massive denial.

"I was later diagnosed with long-term post-traumatic stress disorder."

Mo went back to arts school and secured a 2:1 degree in Fine Art, drawing images which she describes as "morbid and macabre."

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Despite her academic success, life was a struggle for Mo, often suffering panic attacks and waves of anxiety.

She later discovered schema reconditioning therapy, and with the help of therapists Nik and Eva Speakman, using a five-step programme, Mo was able to heal.

Eventually, she was able to look at an image of the Ripper without breaking down, and went on to draw pictures of him and then rip them up.

Mo said: "I could draw a picture of him and would then rip up the Ripper, it was very empowering, to see his face torn into little pieces.

"You can let these massive events define you, but he didn't take my being, he just attacked me – I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"You can either get bitter and resentful, or get creative, anger is a good reason to be creative.

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"It was the catalyst to say, 'I'm lucky to be alive,' and not be drowned by the horror of it all."

Mo has written about her horrific encounter with the Yorkshire Ripper in her new book Facing The Yorkshire Ripper – The Art of Survival.

Sutcliffe, now 74, was never convicted of the assault on Mo, but was jailed on 13 May 1981 for the murders of 13 women.

The murders started out in Leeds, targeting sex workers, but began to spiral across the whole of the North of England, targeting women of all occupations.

He remains in prison and is serving a whole life sentence for his crimes, meaning he will die in jail.

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