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The Awful Killing of Sarah Watts (Kindle)

A Story of Confessions, Acquittals and Jailbreaks

True Crime Social History

By Mick Davis, David Lassman
Imprint: Pen & Sword True Crime
File Size: 12.0 MB (.mobi)
Pages: 257
ISBN: 9781526707314
eBook Released: 14th March 2018

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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.

As mentioned in article part of promotion for Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths in and around Frome

Frome Times, 27th September 2018

As featured by

Frome Times, 13th September 2018

On 24 September 1851, 14-year old Sarah Watts was brutally murdered at a farmhouse near Frome in Somerset while her parents were at market. At the time Somerset did not yet have a professional police force, so the magistrates asked Sgt Henry Smith of Scotland Yard, part of the newly formed London Metropolitan Police, to help find the killer.

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. The case remains unsolved, and readers are left with a set of scenarios to choose from themselves.

Historical Novels Review

David Lassman appearance as promoted by

Somerset Guardian, 12th July 2018

David Lassman appearance as promoted by

Frome Times, 5th July 2018

I had never heard of this case until Pen and Sword decided to take it up - Mick Davis and David Lassman turn in a fascinating account of the murder and the subsequent arrest of three men who might not have had anything to do with the crimes against the little girl; this is a cold case that deserves this attention, and the authors have done the little girl proud!

Books Monthly

Feature 'Frome Times Past' contributed by authors

Frome Times, 24th May 2018

As featured in

True Crime Library, Bulletin 470

As featured in

True Crime Library, Bulletin 469

Recommended 'read of the month' - Frome Library

'IN THIS edition of the Frome Times we welcome two local authors and historians, who will become regular contributors through a feature entitled ‘Frome Times Past

Frome Times online

Article: 'When our town was the crime capital of region' by James Wood as featured by

Frome Standard, 12th April 2018

Author talk as featured in

Frome Times, 29th March 2018

Click here to listen

Note: set cursor to 24:04 for interview

BBC Radio Somerset

Article: Frome, the 'crime capital of the south west' where an horrific murder took place by James Wood as featured by

Somerset Live, 20th March 2018

Article: 'Frome's most infamous murder - The Awful Killing of Sarah Watts' as featured in

Frome Times, 1st March 2018

About Mick Davis

MICK DAVIS was brought up in Plymouth and Uxbridge before finding gainful employment with one of London’s top criminal defence lawyers. He and wife Lorraine first began to restore old buildings in the Frome area in the late 1980s before moving down permanently in 2006. Mick now divides his time between dabbling in property, volunteering at Frome Museum and researching and writing full time. He is co-author of The Historic Inns of Frome published by Akeman Press in 2015.


 David Lassman

About David Lassman

David Lassman is a local historian and author who has run courses for Frome Community Education on the town’s fascinating history and has written for newspapers and magazines on various aspects of its illustrious past. He is a member of the Frome Society for Local Study and a founding trustee of Frome Writers’ Collective. He lives in Frome with his wife and son.

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