Norwich inquest opened today into death of serial killer Donald Neilson

An inquest has been opened and adjourned in Norwich into the death of serial killer Donald Neilson, who died in the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital after being taken there from the city's prison.

Today's inquest heard that prison officer Richard Baird-Parker was on bed watch when Mr Neilson died on Sunday, December 18.

Neilson suffered from motor neurone disease and had been poorly for some time, the inquest heard.

On December 17 he was admitted to hospital following a two-day history of shortness of breath, coughing and feeling hot and cold.

The cause of death was given as pneumonia as a consequence of motor neurone disease.

Norfolk coroner William Armstrong said that as in all cases with death in custody the independent Prisons and Probation Ombudsman would conduct an investigation, but there were no suspicious circumstances.

Once the investigation is completed, the inquest will be resumed with a jury, Mr Armstrong said.

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Neilson's body was released for cremation and the inquest was adjourned to a date to be fixed.

As reported, Neilson murdered heiress Lesley Whittle in 1975 and also shot dead three sub-postmasters during armed robberies in 1974,

In 2008, a High Court judge ruled that Neilson, 75, must never be released from prison after he had applied for the setting of a minimum jail term which would have given him a chance of parole.

Neilson had been sentenced to four terms of life imprisonment at Oxford Crown Court in 1976.

Neilson was born Donald Nappey in Morley, West Yorkshire, in August 1936. He was known as the Black Panther because of the black hood he wore and speedy movements recalled by victims of his attacks.

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