The Awful Killing of Sarah Watts

A Story of Confessions, Acquittals and Jailbreaks

David Lassman, Mick Davis

Date Published :
May 2018
Publisher :
Pen and Sword
Illustration :
32 black and white illustrations
Format Available    QuantityPrice
ISBN : 9781526707307
Pages : 272
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
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Before Road there was Frome . . . before Whicher there was Smith . . . before the heartless slaughter of four year old Saville Kent there was the brutal rape and murder of fourteen year old Sarah Watts.

Taking place nine years earlier than the Road Hill case, made famous by the best-selling book The Suspicions of Mr Whicher and subsequent television adaptation, The Awful Killing of Sarah Watts: A Story of Confessions, Acquittals and Jailbreaks recounts the shocking details of this 1851 murder, on an isolated farm near Frome, and the incredible events that transpired from it.

On Wednesday 24th September 1851, with her parents at market, Sarah Watts was alone at Battle Farm. Sometime during the afternoon, an intruder battered, raped and brutally murdered her.

As the case gripped the nation, a London Detective was sent to investigate. The result was three local men – all notorious felons with previous convictions – were arrested and charged; but with a huge reward on offer, were they really guilty or just hapless victims of others' greed?

When they did stand trial, it set in motion a series of riveting events that culminated a decade later in a sensational confession; but was this confessor’s sanity to be questioned and were they even in the country at the time of the murder?

For the very first time, this sensational story is told in full-length book form, with the authors having meticulously researched newspaper accounts, court transcripts, prison records and eyewitness accounts.

About The Author

David Lassman was born in Bath. He began his writing career freelancing for newspapers and magazines, before studying screenwriting at Bournemouth University. He spent three and a half years on a Greek island writing his first novel, and moved to Frome in 2011. He is the author of 'Frome in the Great War' and co-creator of 'The Regency Detective' series. He is also co-author (with Mick Davis) of 'The Awful Killing of Sarah Watts' published by Pen & Sword in 2018.


"The Awful Killing of Sarah Watts is a true crime story with a gallery of colourful suspects, courtroom drama, sudden new evidence, gaolbreaks and more. Essentially a piece of local history, meticulously researched by two local historians, it has a wider interest as a detailed case study of law enforcement, criminal justice and the penal system at a formative stage in their development in Britain."

- Historical Novels Review

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