Beverley Allitt

Beverley Allitt

Beverley Gail Allitt (born 4 October 1968) is an English serial killer who was convicted of murdering four children, attempting to murder three other children, and causing grievous bodily harm to a further six children.[1] The crimes were committed over a period of 59 days between February and April 1991 on the children's ward at Grantham and Kesteven Hospital, Lincolnshire, where Allitt was employed as a State Enrolled Nurse.[2][3][4] She administered large doses of insulin to at least two victims and a large air bubble was found in the body of another, but police were unable to establish how all the attacks were carried out.[5] In May 1993, at Nottingham Crown Court, she received 13 life sentences for the crimes. Mr. Justice Latham, sentencing, told Allitt that she was "a serious danger" to others and was unlikely ever to be considered safe enough to be released.[6] She is detained at Rampton Secure Hospital in Nottinghamshire.[7]

The victims

  • Liam Taylor (seven weeks old) – was admitted to the ward for a chest infection and was murdered on 21 February 1991.
  • Timothy Hardwick (eleven years old) – a boy with cerebral palsy who was admitted to the ward after having an epileptic seizure. He was murdered on 5 March 1991.
  • Kayley Desmond (then one year old) – admitted to the ward for a chest infection. Allitt attempted to murder her on 8 March 1991 but the child was resuscitated and transferred to another hospital, where she recovered.
  • Paul Crampton (then five months old) – admitted to the ward for a chest infection on 20 March 1991. Allitt attempted to murder him with an insulin overdose on three occasions that day before he was transferred to another hospital, where he recovered.
  • Bradley Gibson (then five years old) – admitted to the ward for pneumonia. He suffered two cardiac arrests on 21 March 1991, due to Allitt administering insulin overdoses, before he was transferred to another hospital, where he recovered.
  • Yik Hung Chan (also known as Henry, then two years old) – admitted to the ward following a fall on 21 March 1991. He suffered an oxygen desaturation attack before he was transferred to another hospital, where he recovered.
  • Becky Phillips (two months old) – admitted to the ward for gastroenteritis on 1 April 1991. She was administered an insulin overdose by Allitt and died at home two days later.
  • Katie Phillips (then two months old) – Becky's twin was admitted to the ward as a precaution following the death of her sister. She had to be resuscitated twice after unexplained apnoeic episodes (which were later found to be due to insulin and potassium overdoses). Following the second time that she stopped breathing, she was transferred to another hospital but, by this time, had suffered permanent brain damage, partial paralysis and partial blindness due to oxygen deprivation. Her parents had been so grateful to Allitt's care of Becky that they had asked her to be Katie's godmother. In 1999 Katie was awarded £2.125 million, by Lincolnshire Health Authority, to pay for treatment and equipment for the rest of her life. Lincolnshire Health Authority did not accept liability, but did acknowledge that Katie was entitled to compensation.
  • Claire Peck (fifteen months old) – admitted to the ward following an asthma attack on 22 April 1991. After being put on a ventilator, she was left alone in Allitt's care for a short interval during which time she had a cardiac arrest. She was resuscitated but died after a second cardiac arrest, again following a period when she was left alone with Allitt.

Trial and imprisonment

Allitt had attacked thirteen children, four fatally, over a sixty day period before she was brought up on charges for her crimes. It was only following the death of Claire Peck that medical staff became suspicious of the number of cardiac arrests on the children's ward and police were called in.[8] It was found that Allitt was the only nurse on duty for all the attacks on the children and she also had access to the drugs.

Four of Allitt's victims had died. She was charged with attempted murder and grievous bodily harm in November 1991. On Friday 28 May 1993 she was found guilty on each charge and sentenced to 13 concurrent terms of life imprisonment, which she is serving at Rampton Secure Hospital in Nottinghamshire.[9][10]

Allitt's trial judge recommended she serve a minimum term of 40 years (one of the longest minimum terms ever suggested by a trial judge, High Court judge or politician), which would keep her in prison until at least 2032 and the age of 64, and even then she could only be released if she was no longer considered to be a danger to the public. In August 2006, Allitt launched an appeal on the length of her sentence.[11] On 6 December 2007, the High Court ruled that Allitt would have to serve at least 30 years in prison, meaning she will now have to wait until at least 2022 and the age of 54 until she can apply for parole.[12]

Allitt's motives have never been fully explained. According to one theory, Allitt herself showed symptoms of factitious disorder, also known as Munchausen syndrome. Munchausen syndrome by proxy, also known as factitious disorder by proxy may explain her actions.[13] This controversial disorder is described as involving a pattern of abuse in which a perpetrator ascribes to, or physically falsifies illnesses in someone under their care, in order to attract attention.

In 2005, the BBC made a dramatisation of the story, "Angel of Death", in which Charlie Brooks played the role of Allitt.[14]

In 2008, the Beverley Allitt story was told as part of the production company Title Role's recreation documentaries, "Crimes That Shook Great Britain" in its own episode, with a young Lexi Wolfe playing Allitt.[15]

References

  1. ^ Katz, Ian (18 May 1993). "The verdicts: Beverley Allitt". The Guardian (Manchester). 
  2. ^ "Nurse 'only link to children's deaths'". The Guardian (Manchester). 16 February 1993. 
  3. ^ Jenkins, Lin (18 May 1993). "Shadows of death fell across Ward 4". The Times (London). 
  4. ^ Jenkins, Lin (18 May 1993). "Killings fed a craving for attention". The Times (London). 
  5. ^ Foster, Jonathan (15 October 1993). "Child murderer confesses at last". The Independent (London). 
  6. ^ Weale, Sally (29 May 1993). "Allitt jailed 'with no prospect of release'". The Guardian (Manchester). 
  7. ^ Foster, Jonathan (2 February 1994). "Warning signs about Allitt 'overlooked'". The Independent (London). 
  8. ^ "Murder in the NHS". W J Appleyard. 29 January 1994. http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/308/6924/287. Retrieved 2007-02-06. 
  9. ^ The Guardian - 29 May 1993
  10. ^ "Beverly Allitt: Suffer the Children". The Crime Library. 10 May 2000. http://www.crimelibrary.com/notorious_murders/angels/beverly_allitt/6.html. Retrieved 2007-02-06. 
  11. ^ "Child killer Allitt seeks review". BBC. 2 August 2006. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/lincolnshire/5239958.stm. Retrieved 2007-02-06. 
  12. ^ "Appeal by 'Angel of Death' fails". BBC. 6 December 2007. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/lincolnshire/7130211.stm. Retrieved 2007-12-06. 
  13. ^ "Famous Criminals: Beverley Allitt". Crime & Investigation Network. 10 February 2005. http://www.crimeandinvestigation.co.uk/famous_criminal/8/the_arrest/1/Beverley_Allitt.htm. Retrieved 2007-02-06. 
  14. ^ Angel of Death: The Beverly Allitt Story at IMDb
  15. ^ Crimes That Shook Great Britain at IMDb

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