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The Awful Killing of Sarah Watts (ePub)

A Story of Confessions, Acquittals and Jailbreaks

P&S History > Social History P&S History > True Crime

By Mick Davis, David Lassman
Imprint: Pen & Sword True Crime
File Size: 5.6 MB (.epub)
Pages: 257
Illustrations: 32
ISBN: 9781526707321
Published: 7th 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.

David Lassman talk as featured by

Somerset Guardian, 9th January 2020

'Following in the footsteps of Victorian killer'

Frome Standard, 7th November 2019

'Murder Walk will be highlight of festival'

Frome Times, 7th November 2019

Feature 'Frome Times Past' contributed by authors

Frome Times, 17th January 2019

As featured by

Somerset Guardian/Frome Times, 8th November 2018

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 spent many years working in the criminal law before retiring with his wife Lorraine to Frome in Somerset where he pursues his interest in restoring historic buildings, local history and archaeology. He now spends his time researching and writing full time. His first book was The Historic Inns of Frome and his collaboration with David Lassman has so far produced The Awful Killing of Sarah Watts and Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths in and around Frome, both published by Pen and Sword. Current projects include a survey of the prehistoric barrows of North Somerset.

 David Lassman

About David Lassman

David Lassman 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, is author of Frome in the Great War and co-created the ‘Regency Detective’ series with Terence James. His collaborations with Mick Davis include The Awful Killing of Sarah Watts, one of the most infamous crimes of the Victorian period and Visitors’ Historic Britain: Somerset.

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