British Executions

Leo George ODonnell

Age: 26

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 29 Mar 1917

Crime Location: Aldershot

Execution Place: Winchester

Method: hanging

Executioner: John Ellis


Leo ODonnell murdered William F Watterton 48 who he shot in Aldershot on 1 January 1917.

William Watterton, a luetenant, was the father of Leo ODonnell's girlfriend. Leo ODonnell was a Sergeant in the Royal Army Medical Corps and had propsed to William Watterton's daughter that day.

William Watterton was found dead in a trench on 1 January 1917 with head injuries and his pockets had been gone through. It was heard that Leo ODonnell had robbed him to get a pass key so that he could go into the quartermaster's office where patients' valuables were kept and steal them. On the night of the murder he had been to the hospital and asked to be let into the store saying that William Watterton had sent him but they refused him. William Watterton had a key to a safe that was known to have hundreds of pounds in it but the key was missing on 2 January.

Leo ODonnell went to see his girlfriend at William Watterton's bungalow around 11.30pm that night where his girlfriend was waiting for her father and Leo ODonnell said that William Watterton had gone out earlier on an urgent appointment. this aroused the suspicsion of the girlfriend because it implied that he had been to the bungalow earlier.

Whilst in jail he offerred a friend £250 if he would offer him an alibi.

Leo ODonnell said that the real killer was a blackmailer who was blackmailing William Watterton over a relationship he had with a Spanish girl.

A private who shared the same room as Leo ODonnell said that he heard movement from Leo ODonnell's bunk in the night between 10.30 and 11.00pm including the sound of  a macintosh being done up and saw him sat on his bed around 7.30am the following morning dessed and said that he had not been to sleep.

In the morning in the canteen a sargent spoke to Leo ODonnell and asked him why he had not been at the social the night before but Leo ODonnell didnt reply. However, he did say that Leo ODonnell said 'Have you heard about the affair at the Isolation Hospital? Two offers were seen to drink 3 bottles of whisky in 10 minutes and one of them who is now absent was last seen walking about with a truncheon in his hand.'

When told of the murder in the morning Leo ODonnell told another sergent that 'In my opinion he was knocked down by a car and the body must have been dragged there, but the unfortunate part of it is that they found my truncheon there. I had no idea he had it'.

Leo ODonnell said that he left William Watterton's bungalow at around 8.20pm drunk and didnt remember anything until waking up in his bunk around 10.30am the following day.

see Manchester Evening News - Thursday 18 January 1917