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Leo George O'DONNELL





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Sergeant in the Royal Army Medical Corps
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: January 2, 1917
Date of arrest: Next day
Date of birth: 1895
Victim profile: Lieutenant William Watterton (his girlfriend's father)
Method of murder: Battered to death
Location: Aldershot, Hampshire, England, United Kingdom
Status: Executed by hanging at Manchester on the 29th March 1917

Twenty two year old Leo George O'Donnell was a Sergeant in the Royal Army Medical Corps convicted at Hampshire Assizes on 9 February of the murder of a Lieutenant William Watterton at Aldershot.

On New Year's Day 1917, O'Donnell announced his engagement to the daughter of Lieutenant Watterton, a quartermaster officer at a nearby hospital.

Later that day, Miss Watterton, who served in the Women's Auxiliary Service, obtained a night pass so that she could celebrate her engagement with a girlfriend.

After a night's drinking, the girls returned to Lieutenant Watterton's bungalow, expecting to find him home. He was not there and they decided to wait for him. At 11.30pm, O'Donnell called round and said that the Lieutenant had left earlier that night for an urgent appointment.

The statement implied that O'Donnell could have been at the bungalow earlier; and his sudden return so late made the two women suspicious. Shortly before midnight, O'Donnell left and headed for the hospital where he asked to be shown into the quartermaster's office - where patients' valuables were kept - claiming to have been sent by the Lieutenant. Unable to produce the pass key, O'Donnell was refused entry and he returned to his billet.

The next day, William Watterton's body was found in a trench on a nearby training ground. He had been battered to death - there were over twenty four cuts to his head - and his pockets had been rifled.

O'Donnell was arrested at once when it was learned that he had tried to gain entry to the offices. While held on remand, he offered a friend 250 if he would provide him with an alibi.

Tried before Mr Justice Darling, O'Donnell denied the murder. The prosecution said he had committed the crime in order to obtain the key to the quartermaster's office and thereby steal the valuables within. O'Donnell claimed that the real killer was a man blackmailing Watterton over an alleged affair with a young Spanish girl.

He was hanged, at Manchester, in a prison uniform by John Ellis and Robert Baxter on the 29th March 1917 at Winchester.



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