Donald Neilson 'died from pneumonia'

 

Serial killer Donald Neilson died from pneumonia, an inquest has heard.

Norfolk Coroner William Armstrong this morning opened the inquest into the death of Neilson, the murderer known as the Black Panther, in Norwich.

He said the 75-year-old was transferred from Norwich prison, where he was being held, to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital on Saturday.

Staff at the prison said Neilson, who suffered from motor neurone disease, had been feeling unwell for two days and had reported shortness of breath, coughing and feeling cold.

He was pronounced dead at about 6.45pm on Sunday.

The inquest heard Neilson was vulnerable to pneumonia, partly as a result of his long-term condition.

A full inquest will be held in due course.

Neilson was given four life sentences in 1975 and was one of a small group of notorious prisoners who were told they would spend the rest of their lives behind bars.

The jobbing builder kidnapped 17-year-old Lesley Whittle from her home in Shropshire, leaving a ransom demand for £50,000.

Her body was later found in an underground drainage system, hanging from the bottom of a ladder to which Neilson had secured her by the neck with wire.

He also shot dead three sub-postmasters during armed robberies.

PA