Liverpool woman survived brutal Yorkshire Ripper hammer attack | #students | #parents

A Liverpool woman who was brutally attacked by the Yorkshire Ripper 40 years ago but survived to tell the tale has revealed how she has finally conquered her demons.

Mo Lea was an art student in Leeds when she was unwittingly caught up in the worst experience of her life, becoming a target for the notorious serial killer, Peter Sutcliffe.

The former Rice Lane Primary School pupil was out with friends in a pub in the Chapeltown area of the city, planning her 21st birthday.

It was October 25, 1980, and the pals went their separate ways just after 10pm, as Mo decided to walk through the university campus to catch the bus.

She took a short cut down a dark street where the lights were out before suddenly hearing what sounded like a “friendly” voice behind her.

The man asked: “Hey, how are you?”

Speaking to the ECHO, Mo, now 60, recalls: “I didn’t recognise him and he was holding himself strangely..

“I said ‘bye’, and then realised I was in danger and I started to run.

“Fear came over me as I heard his footsteps get faster behind me.

“I felt a whack to the back of my head, the pavement coming up to my face and then I blacked out.”

Mo woke up in hospital with terrible injuries – a fractured skull, fractured cheekbone, a broken jaw, a puncture wound to the back of her skull and many cuts and bruises.

Evil Sutcliffe had used a hammer to beat her head and a sharpened screwdriver to try and sever her spinal cord, in his almost deadly attack, just like he had with his other victims, on the way to his grim toll of 13 murders.

When Mo’s parents first saw her in hospital, her injuries were so bad they didn’t recognise her, due to her two black eyes.

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An operation was required on her jaw on her 21st birthday, a very different way to remember the milestone than what she had planned.

Soon after, she learnt how a brave couple had intervened on the street, seeing the Ripper bent over Mo on the floor, savagely attacking her with the makeshift weapons, which prompted him to run away.

“What they did saved my life,” says the former Liverpool Girl’s College pupil who used to live in the Walton area of the city.

Mo, who left Liverpool, aged 18, is still in touch with the woman, Lorna, today.

After the horrific assault, she was left in the gutter, covered in blood and was choking, which meant she spent two weeks in hospital before returning from Leeds to Liverpool to recover with her parents.

Mo Lea, gets tearful about her shocking experience at the hands of Peter Sutcliffe

Two months later, Mo went back to Leeds for Christmas and in early January Sutcliffe’s identity emerged and his face, chillingly for his victims, started to appear in the media.

She said: “I went into massive denial.

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

To try and deal with the anguish, Mo went back to arts school and secured a 2:1 degree in Fine Art, often drawing images which she describes as “morbid and macabre”.

Life was a struggle, and it wasn’t until she came across schema reconditioning therapy that big improvements were made.

With the help of therapists Nik and Eva Speakman, using a five-step programme, Mo was able to heal.

The success was put to the test on live TV, on This Morning, when a picture of the Yorkshire Ripper was held up in front of her.

Normally, Mo would have broke down sobbing, and the image would have sparked strong panic attacks and waves of anxiety.

But almost miraculously, she was able to stare at Sutcliffe’s photo, seemingly unphased.

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.

Mo Lea meets the woman who saved her life, Lorna

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

“It was the catalyst to say, ‘I’m lucky to be alive,’ and not be drowned by the horror of it all.”

Forty years after such a traumatic experience, Mo has written about what happened to her in a book, entitled ‘Facing The Yorkshire Ripper – The Art of Survival.’

A former university lecturer, Mo has also forged a successful career in teaching in the UK, America, Malaysia and the South Pacific while, and as an artist, exhibited in London, Los Angeles, and New York.

Commentators said of the book: “Mo as finally found a way of stepping out of the frame.

“She no longer felt Iike running away.

Peter Sutcliffe
Peter Sutcliffe

“The illustrations contained within describe better than any words, her journey from tragic despair to calmness and acceptance.

“By writing this book Mo Lea has found a way to reclaim her story.”

However, Sutcliffe was never convicted of the assault Mo suffered during her time as a student in Leeds.

Sutcliffe, whose murder spree led to him killing 11 women in West Yorkshire and a further two in Manchester between October 1975 and January 1981, remains in prison, serving a whole life term, meaning he will die in jail. He is 74.

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.

As well as the 13 women murders, there were seven others who managed to escape the killer.

Peter Sutcliffe the Yorkshire ripper handcuffed leaving court
Peter Sutcliffe the Yorkshire ripper handcuffed leaving court

Mo still has a strong affinity with Merseyside, and her parents, former tobacco factory workers, live in Crosby. Her brother was once a member of the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.

Mo remains “angry” with Sutcliffe for never admitting his attack on her, and she added: “He’s manipulative, and he knows full well what he did to me.”

Mo Lea’s book on the Ripper

Now living in Bedfordshire, she added: “Drawing was a massive outlet for me as what happened was horrific, I didn’t want to talk about it.

“It’s a really difficult thing to articulate as it was a very frightening time.

“Today, I’m really happy, I have a lovely flat, I’m in a beautiful place.

“If this book gets people hopeful, then it’s got the powerful message I wanted.”

The book, published by Pen and Sword, is available on Amazon.

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