Where is Donald Neilson now? When did Black Panther kill Lesley Whittle?

The Channel 5 kidnapping of Lesley Whittle tells the terrible story of a missing teenage girl and how she was later found murdered – but where is murderer Donald Neilson now?

What happened to Lesley Whittle and what was the cause of her death?

Here’s everything you need to know about the gruesome crime.


Lesley Whittles convicted killer Donald Neilson (Image: Channel 5)

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Who was Donald Neilson’s victim, Lesley Whittle?

Lesley Whittle was a British teenager and the daughter of George Whittle, co-owner of Whittle Coaches.

She was born in 1957 and was only 17 when she was kidnapped from her home in Highley, Shropshire.

At the time of her abduction, she was a student at Wulfrun College in Wolverhampton.

Donald Neilson kidnapped Lesley on January 14, 1975.

Her body was discovered on March 7, 1975.

What did Donald Neilson do to Lesley Whittle?

Donald was a professional criminal who had committed over 400 break-ins and three murders.

He targeted Lesley for her wealth.

To avoid inheritance taxes, her father George Whittle gave huge sums of money to his lover and their two children.

Lesley received £ 82,000.

Donald kidnapped Lesley Whittle and held her in an underground reservoir drain in Bathpool Park in Kidsgrove, Staffordshire.

He put a hood over her head, left her naked, and tied her to the side of the shaft with a wire loop.

Donald asked for a ransom of £ 50,000.

However, the police found Lesley’s body hanging in the shaft on March 7, 1975, after a botched police operation.

Police believed Donald Neilson pushed Lesley Whittle off the ledge in the drain and strangled her.

The autopsy revealed that the teen died instantly from vagal obstruction, but not from strangulation.

Lesley Whittle murder
A newspaper headline about the disappearance of Lesley Whittle (Credit: Channel 5)

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Where is Donald Neilson now?

Donald Neilson later became Britain’s most wanted man.

In December 1975, two police officers discovered a man acting suspiciously in Mansfield – it was Donald Neilson.

The police arrested him with the help of several customers in a nearby fish and chip shop.

In July 1976 Oxford Crown Court convicted Donald Neilson of the kidnapping and murder of Lesley Whittle.

The judge sentenced Donald to life imprisonment.

Three weeks later he was found guilty of the murder of three postal workers and sentenced to three additional life terms.

In 2008, Donald Neilson appealed his verdict after revealing that he suffered from motor neuron disease.

However, Mr Justice Teare ruled that he should never be released from prison.

Neilson died in hospital in December 2011 at the age of 75, still serving his sentence.

Why was Donald Neilson called the Black Panther?

The British press called Donald Neilson “the Black Panther”.

This was because he wore a black balaclava when robbing post offices.

Lesley Whittle
Donald Neilson kidnapped and murdered Lesley Whittle (Image: YouTube)

What is vagus inhibition?

Vagus inhibition refers to a condition that can lead to sudden death.

It happens when pressure is put on the neck where the vagus nerve runs.

When the nerve is unable to effectively carry signals to and from the vital organs – heart, lungs, and digestive tract – it can cause them to stop working.

The kidnapping of Lesley Whittle on Channel 5

The Abduction of Lesley Whittle is a Channel 5 documentary.

It tells the story of the kidnapping and murder of 17-year-old Lesley in 1975.

Her ordeal began at her Shropshire home on January 14th when her mother Dorothy tried to wake her daughter and found an empty bed.

There were three ransom demands for £ 50,000 in the lounge and a warning not to involve the police.

Seven weeks later, police found Lesley hanging on a wire at the bottom of the drain where Donald Neilson had tied her up.

The Lesley Whittle Abduction will air on Channel 5 on Monday, October 11, 2021 at 9 p.m.

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