Donald Neilson was also known as ‘the Black Panther’ during his criminal career. His career began when his building and carpentry business hit hard times and he was unable to support himself, turning firstly to burglary and eventually armed robbery to supplement his income.
His target of choice were small post offices, operating under the logic that they would be easier to rob and would have fewer security measures. It was during these armed robberies that he committed his first murders, shooting witnesses in the process of robbing the post offices. While the robberies supplied him with small amounts of money he craved a much larger pay off, and decided to branch out into kidnapping for ransom.
He targeted 17 year old Lesley Whittle, whose father had left her £82,500 in his will. Neilson broke into her house at night and kidnapped her at gun point, enabling him to take the young girl without a struggle or much noise. He left a ransom note demanding £50,000 and tied Lesley to a disused drainage shaft by a rope around her neck, leaving her with food and bedding. Eventually Neilson grew to believe that Mr Whittle was operating within a police trap in order facilitate his arrest, and in a rage is thought to have pushed Leslie off a ledge by the drainage shaft, throttling her, the constriction of her carotid artery slowing her heart down to such an extent that it quickly stopped altogether, killing her.
Her body was discovered hanging from a wire, with her feet inches from the ground. Neilson was eventually arrested in the process of carrying out another armed robbery, with police officers spotting the gun sitting in the back of his car. After a struggle - which lead to the injuries shown above - he was apprehended. He was convicted of four murders and sentenced to life imprisonment.