Horror of kidnapper's crimes will continue to haunt those involved despite his death
Dianne Gibbons, who was a reporter at the time, looks back at the tragic circumstances surrounding the death of Lesley Whittle and the subsequent capture of her killer Donald Neilson.
I WILL always remember watching the television one evening and seeing the face of Lesley Whittle fill the screen.
That is how I first heard the news about the young, dark-haired heiress.
It was early in 1975 and next day the newspapers were also carrying the story of the missing 17-year-old.
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When – weeks later – news of the tragic finding of her body in the drainage shaft Bathpool Park, Kidsgrove, came out, The Sentinel became involved in a big way. Nearly all the reporters in the newsroom were working on the story both night and day.
Any suspected sightings sent us to various locations to interview people who believed they had seen The Black Panther.
One lunchtime I was in the office when I was sent to Boots in Newcastle to interview a young assistant who had sold batteries to a man whose description matched that circulated by the police. The main feature was his eyes. She said: "They looked right through you."
And when I first saw Neilson for myself I realised what she meant. They were cold, staring and pierced right through you.
The very worst details which emerged were where the victim was kept, the conditions and her lonely terrible death.
I knew she was able to hear the trains and even now 36 years later I never travel on the train towards Kidsgrove without thinking of her.
The horror of the crime will live on despite Neilson's death.