IF Jack The Ripper were roaming the streets of London in 2013, would modern policing bring his reign of terror to an abrupt end?
Retired detective Trevor Marriott aims to answer that question in a talk entitled Jack The Ripper: A 21st Century Investigation. And what's more, he even has doubts there was a Ripper to begin with.
Despite countless theories over the five notorious Whitechapel murders of 1888, the identity and motive of the culprit still remains a mystery. Yet since 2002 Marriott has used his knowledge and expertise to carry out his own investigation, and the results give enough material for an intriguing show touring the length and breadth of the UK.
It re-evaluates the case entirely, beginning with the list of suspects which, over the years, has included figures as seemingly ridiculous as Edward VII's son and writer Lewis Carroll. As Marriott has unearthed new evidence, he has dismissed old suspects and introduced new ones.
He does believe, however, that there is one question equally as important as "Who was he?" "Before we try to answer that question," said Marriott, "there's a possibility that Jack The Ripper didn't actually exist.
"One reason the story is so well known is because all five murders were thought to have been committed by one man. On their own, they would have been forgotten about.
"Another reason is the name 'Jack The Ripper'. This was created by a journalist, and that same journalist probably forged the famous letter from the murderer too. From the start the idea of one murderer was put out."
The public interest in the murders was no doubt fuelled by the media treatment of the case, and the fascination has spawned a litany of books, films and plays. But Marriott also dispels the popular belief that the murders, even if committed by one man, were not necessarily the work of a surgeon or medical expert.
So as well as eradicating some of the theories and getting closer to a definitive answer, Marriott also opens the door to new possibilities.
As well as the disclosure of the results to the investigation, the talk will feature original crime scene and suspect photographs. Most importantly, Marriott names the man he believes to be the prime suspect – be he Jack The Ripper or merely Whitechapel murderer.
Jack The Ripper: A 21st Century Investigation is at the Landmark Theatre, Ilfracombe on Thursday, October 10, 8pm. Tickets: £12.50 (full), £11 (concession), £10 (NDT supporter), £8 (student/young person).
Box office: 01271 324242, www.northdevontheatres .org.uk.