The Black Panther

Black Panther Cover

The Trials and Abductions of Donald Neilson (Nov 2016)

On the morning of 14 January 1975, Mrs Dorothy Whittle wakes to be faced with every mother’s worst nightmare: finding her daughter has been abducted from her room. A note has been left downstairs, demanding a ransom. Later, a recorded message comes from Lesley herself saying where to leave the money but not to tell the police or she’ll be killed. The family disobeys the instructions and informs the authorities, and together they struggle to understand and carry out their instructions in a complex cat and mouse game with one desperate aim: to get Lesley back alive.

The recent release of Home Office papers allows the author to go behind the scenes and examine how a combination of bad luck and mistakes on the part of both the police and Donald Neilson stacked the odds against a successful end to one of the century’s most despicable crimes. Here Gordon details what happened to Lesley as she lay naked and shackled by a steel noose at the bottom of a wet drainage shaft with a man in a black hood, the Black Panther, as her only contact with the outside world, and comes to a different conclusion than most accounts as to how she died.

The Acid Bath Murders


The Trials and Liquidations of John George Haigh (Nov 2015)

John George Haigh, musician, inventor, man of charm and wit with a strict Plymouth Brethren upbringing, the sort of person you would trust with your money and your life. Five people lose both in five perfect murders, all close friends of Mr Haigh, to fund a lifestyle of smart hotels, cars and clothes. It’s 1949 and rationing in post-war Britain still hurts. Now he turns his attention to his sixth victim, a wealthy widow living in his hotel, and when she disappears difficult questions start to be asked.

Haigh tells the police his sole motive for the killing his victims is to drink their blood. A set of dentures and a human gallstone are found in the yard outside Haigh’s isolated workshop, but no bodies, as Haigh tells the police they won’t find any bodies because he’s dissolved them in acid. As the macabre relics of serial murder are put together, the question is whether the police have a genuine vampire on their hands, or a calculating businessman whose lucrative trade is death.

The difference is crucial: one road leads to Broadmoor Hospital for the criminally insane, while the other leads to the gallows.

An enthralling investigation and trial starts with police, doctors and lawyers struggling to find out who or what is John George Haigh.


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Escape from Broadmoor

The Trials and Strangulations of John Thomas Straffen by Gordon Lowe (2013)

JOHN THOMAS STRAFFEN Britain’s longest-serving prisoner was the first patient to escape from Broadmoor Hospital and be prosecuted for a crime committed on the run. He killed within hours. Prior to this, at his home in Bath, he was dismissed as a loner, an imbecile, a child trapped in an adult’s body . On the afternoon of Sunday 15 July 1951, John Straffen strangled 8-year-old Brenda Goddard as she picked flowers. [more...]