Skip to main contentSkip to footer

The Long Shadow: What happened to Terry Hawkshaw? The real story behind falsely accused suspect

Episode four of The Long Shadow focused on Terry's story

David Morrissey as DCS George Oldfield
Francesca Shillcock
Francesca ShillcockSenior Features Writer
Share this:

The Long Shadow is the latest drama offering from ITV which delves deep into the story behind the five-year search for one of the country's most prolific serial killers, Peter Sutcliffe.

Although it's been billed as a difficult watch, the script and acting performances have been hailed as brilliant by fans and critics. But there was one particular storyline which was featured in episode four that made for tough viewing.

WATCH: The official trailer for The Long Shadow on ITV

Police investigators began questioning the newest lead suspect in their inquiry after he matched the description provided by a woman who survived a horrific attack at the hands of Sutcliffe who was still then at large.

Her description of a bearded man in a white taxi resulted in a taxi driver being arrested and falsely accused of Sutcliffe's crimes. 

Episode four of the ITV drama, which stars Katherine Kelly, Mark Stobbart, Toby Jones, David Morrissey and Daniel Mays, saw police convinced they had caught the right person as they made the arrest and performed an intensive interrogation.

MORE: The Long Shadow: fans share fury at intense ITV drama - and star Daniel Mays responds 

MORE: ITV's Payback: Will there be a season 2? 

David Morrissey as DCS George Oldfield© Thomas Wood
Episode four saw police arrest Terry

Fans may or may not know this happened in real life. Although the innocent taxi driver in The Long Shadow was not named, in real life, the false suspect was Terry Hawkshaw. He was portrayed in the drama series by Irish actor Ian Lloyd Anderson.

According to the Scottish Daily Mail, Terry was made a prime suspect after his car was noticed by police at red light district areas and because he matched the description police were given by one of the victims.

Ian Lloyd Anderson as Terry Hawkshaw in The Long Shadow© ITV
Ian Lloyd Anderson as Terry Hawkshaw in The Long Shadow

In 1977, Terry was arrested and held for hours for questioning and was placed under 24 hour surveillance despite being innocent. Terry in fact spoke about his distressing brush with the authorities in a documentary some years later.

"I realised that I was being followed all the time and then it got to the stage where I knew the cars, the CID men knew me. We just followed each other around all night," he explained later. "Each time there was a new murder, the next day or the day after that they'd be knocking at my door and they’d search my house and search the car, take the carpets out."

Katherine Kelly as Emily Jackson in The Long Shadow
© Justin Slee
Katherine Kelly as Emily Jackson in The Long Shadow

The hunt for Peter Sutcliffe spanned almost six years, with 30,000 statements taken and 2.5 million hours spent on catching him. Sutcliffe was finally caught after being pulled over by an officer in Sheffield on January 2, 1981. Over the following day, Sutcliffe described his attacks and even claimed to have heard voices telling him to commit the crimes.  

Kris Hitchen, Lee Ingleby, Stephen Tompkinson, Toby Jones and Jack Deam in The Long Shadow© ITV
Kris Hitchen, Lee Ingleby, Stephen Tompkinson, Toby Jones and Jack Deam in The Long Shadow

He eventually pleaded not guilty to 13 charges of murder, but guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. After a two-week trial at London's Old Bailey, Sutcliffe was found guilty of murder on all 13 counts and attempting to murder seven other women.

He was sentenced to twenty concurrent sentences of life imprisonment. Peter Sutcliffe died at the age of 74 in November 2020.