In 1935 Dorothea and her
lover 39 year old Ronald Sullivan, opened a
nursing home in Devon Drive, Nottingham.
Dorothea had a long criminal record with several
convictions for fraud and petty theft.
Waddingham was her
maiden name, she had started using it again after the
death of her elderly husband.
She was left to bring up five children and
opening a nursing home, with her as matron and Ronald
Sullivan as a general assistant, seemed a reasonable way of
earning a living.
Dorothea’s medical experience consisted of a short
as ward orderly at the Burton-on-Trent Workhouse Infirmary.
January 1935 her first two patients were 89 year old Mrs Baguley, who
suffered from senility, and her
50 year old daughter, Ada, who had
Mrs Baguley and Dorothea came to an agreement whereby the
home would care for the two women, until their deaths, on
condition that Mrs Baguley left Dorothea her entire estate.
came to about £1,600.
6th May 1935, Mrs Baguley rewrote her will to this effect. Six
days later she died with the cause of death being given as
cerebral haemorrhage (Stroke).
Nobody was particularly surprised and the woman’s death
was attributed to old age. Ada followed her mother on 10th
September with the cause again being given as cerebral
haemorrhage. Dorothea now aroused suspicion by producing a
letter, supposedly from Ada, dated 29th August. In it she
requested that she be cremated and that her relatives
not be informed of her death. Dorothea sent this letter
to the Nottingham medical health officer with a
request to approve cremation.
Dr Banks was sufficiently alarmed to order a post-mortem.
This was carried out by Dr Roche Lynch, who found three
grains of morphine in the corpse. After this discovery,
the body of Mrs Baguley was exhumed and again a fatal dose
of morphine was found. Dorothea and Ronald Sullivan were
both arrested and charged with Ada Baguley’s murder.
4th February 1936,
Their joint trial began at Nottingham Assizes . It was
quickly decided that there was insufficient evidence
against Ronald Sullivan so he was discharged.
Dorothea tried to claim
that she had given the morphine on the orders of the
clinic’s doctor, Doctor, he denied this but
confirmed that he had prescribed morphine for another of
the home’s patients, Mrs Kemp..
27th February 1936, the jury found Dorothea guilty
but added a recommendation to mercy. The judge and Home
Secretary ignored this.
16th April 1936,
Dorothea Waddingham was hanged at
Winson Green Prison, Birmingham
by Tom and Albert Pierrepoint.
Dorothea confessed to the double murder shortly before the