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Classification: Homicide
Characteristics: Rigging the body so as to appear as if a suicide
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: December 10, 1953
Date of arrest: June1954
Date of birth: 1920
Victim profile: Sergeant Reginald Watters (his lover's husband)
Method of murder: A severe blow across the throat
Location: Duisburg, Germany
Status: Sentenced to death. Commuted. Released in 1965


Monday, Jul. 18, 1955

At the British military barracks in West Germany's Duisburg back in 1953, there were no closer buddies than handsome, strapping (6 ft. 3 in.) Sergeant Frederick Emmett-Dunne and happy-go-lucky little (5 ft. 1 in.) Sergeant Reginald Watters. If Sergeant Emmett-Dunne seemed overly interested in Sergeant Walters' pretty German wife Maria, an ex-nightclub singer, nobody seemed to mind less most of the time than Sergeant Watters himself. Nobody seemed to mind less, that is, until the night of Nov. 30, 1953. That night Sergeant Emmett-Dunne and another soldier found Sergeant Watters hanging by the neck from a bannister in one of the barracks.

Emmett-Dunne himself broke the sad news to Maria, and helped assuage her grief. When the official verdict of suicide came through, barrack gossips were quick to blame the suicide on the close friendship of the dead Walters' buddy and wife. But an official army investigator named Sergeant Frank Walters was bothered by the suicide verdict. It was Walters' simple opinion that cocky Sergeant Watters was just not the suicidal type.

Remembered Suspicion. In the time-honored manner of fictional detectives, Sergeant Walters filed away his suspicions for future reference, finished his hitch in the army, and eventually joined the London police force. Early last summer, he learned that Sergeant Frederick Emmett-Dunne and the widow Watters had been married, seven months after Waiters' death. His suspicions were re-aroused; he took them over to army intelligence.

The result was a hurried order to British headquarters in Duisburg to exhume the dead sergeant's body. At this point another figure appeared on the scene: Sergeant Emmett-Dunne's half-brother Ronald, onetime private at Duisburg. Quaking with fear, brother Ronald turned up at police headquarters with a tale of hanky-panky in the darkness that led to the prompt arrest of Sergeant Emmett-Dunne.

The charge: first-degree murder.

A Judo Trick. Fortnight ago, before a British military court in Düsseldorf, his dress uniform atinkle with medals earned in three services,*— the handsome sergeant readily admitted killing his friend, and stringing him up on the bannister with the help of his brother. But, he insisted, he had killed only in self-defense. His buddy, he claimed, had threatened him with a gun, and to protect his life, Dunne had used a judo trick learned in the commandos: a slashing blow with the edge of his hand against Watters' larynx. Why, then, had he called in his brother to help fake a suicide? Sudden panic at finding his assailant dead, said Sergeant Emmett-Dunne. "I was only going to stun him." For nine days, while banner headlines in the London press blared forth the details of the latest crime of passion (20 British and ten German reporters covered the proceedings), the seven-man army court considered Emmett-Dunne's story.

Last week, dismissing the plea of self-defense, it found the sergeant guilty as charged, and "the court sentences the accused to suffer death by hanging." "I have nothing to say," murmured Emmett-Dunne as he stood before his judges with neck twitching and muscles tense.

Then he was led away to a base prison camp, where he was allowed to see Maria, who had stoutly insisted in court that she had not loved the big Irish sergeant when he was her late husband's buddy. But, she added, she loves him now.

* The merchant navy, the Royal Marines (he was twice torpedoed off the Dutch coast), the Irish Guards (wounded three times at Anzio).


Another British Army Courts Martial

In June 1955, a British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) Courts Martial was convened in Düßeldorf, Germany, presided over by Brigadier D.L. Betts.

Charged before him with murder was a REME (Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers), Sergeant, Frederick Emmett-Dunne.

At the time of the alleged offence, on wednesday 30th November 1953, Emmett-Dunne was an Acting CSM (Warrant Officer Class 2-Company Sergeant-Major), at the REME Workshops, 4th Infantry Division, Glamorgan Barracks, Duisburg. He was an unmarried man, and lived in the barracks.

The murdered man was Sergeant Reginald Watters, an NCO Instructor in the REME Technical Training School. His body had been found hanging in barrack block number 4 in the early hours of December 1st. Nearby was an overturned bucket. As a married man Watters had lived with his German wife Mia, a former night club singer, in an MSQ (Married Service Quarters) unit, about 1500 metres from the barracks.

Emmett-Dunne had caused the death of Watters with a severe blow across the throat and then taken the body to Block 4. He had then enlisted the help of his half brother, a private, also living in the barracks, to rig the body so as to appear as if a suicide.

Emmett-Dunne had pleaded not guilty to the charge, which was in fact a civil offence committed whilst on ative service.

At first it was thought that Watters HAD committed suicide, because his wife was having an affair with Emmett-Dunne, and a young British doctor HAD mistakenly declared suicide to have been the cause of Sgt.Watters' death.

However, in 1954, Emmett-Dunne returned to England, where, on the 3rd of June, he had married Mia.

News of this marriage had attracted the attention of a police officer, Frank Walters, who had been a former staff sergeant of the Royal Military Police SIB-(Special Investigation Branch), and who had been involved in the Emmett-Dunne case the previous year. He reported this to his superiors, who immediately got permission to have Watters body resumed and more professionally examined. Resulting medical opinion led to Emmett-Dunne's arrest and detention in March 1955.

Under Military Police escort Emmett-Dunne was taken back to Düsseldorf, Germany, still in detention. At the Court there he appeared in uniform, smartly dressed as a sergeant of REME and wearing a number of medals from his previous service in the Irish Guards, Merchant Marine and Royal Marines.

The Court determined from the evidence presented and from statements taken from many witnesses, that Emmett-Dunne WAS guilty of murder, and sentenced him to be hanged. (The death penalty was still in force under English law at that time).

However, the German and British Governments had signed a Convention on 26th May 1952, prohibiting the enforcement of the death penalty on German territory by the Occupation Armed Services Authorities, and so, Emmett-Dunne's death sentence was changed to 'Life In Prison-not to be released for ten years', instead.

He was ignominiously stripped of his stripes, REME flash and all his decorations.

Under SIB Royal Military Police escort he was taken via the Hoek van Holland and Harwich and then by car direct to Norwich Jail, where he was handed over to the prison authorities.

Emmett-Dunne was released in 1965, and then disappeared into history!


Emmett-Dunne escorted by RPM to his Courts Martial


Leaving ship at Harwich en route to Norwich Jail.



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