1. ITV Report

Black Panther killer dies of natural causes

Serial Killer asked not to be kept alive Photo: PA

A serial killer asked prison staff not to keep him alive if his health deteriorated, an inquest heard today.

Murderer Donald Neilson died in Norwich last year. He had been diagnosed with irreversible muscle-wasting condition motor neurone disease two years before his death last year.

Neilson, who had been known as the Black Panther during his 1970s murder spree, died on December 18 after being transferred from Norwich Prison to the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, suffering from a chest infection and pneumonia.

Norfolk Coroner William Armstrong said Neilson's family had been informed of the inquest at Norwich Coroner's Court but chose to stay away.

Relatives did not visit him in jail, although after the inquest it emerged that his daughter, Kathryn, had sent prison staff a card thanking them for the care they provided.

The inquest heard Neilson had been a "challenging and unco-operative" patient who had asked medics not to resuscitate him should he suffer a cardiac arrest. Mr Armstrong said: "At the time of his death he struggled to do even the most basic things and was virtually dependent on other people."

A jury returned a verdict that Neilson died of natural causes. The inquest heard that motor neurone sufferers are particularly vulnerable to chest conditions.

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.

Neilson also shot three sub-postmasters dead during armed robberies between February and November 1974

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