Friday, October 5, 2012

The Angel of Death: Beverly Allitt

Beverley Gail Allitt (born 4 October 1968), dubbed the 'Angel of Death', was an English paediatric nurse who was convicted of killing four children and injuring nine others, in 1991, on the children's ward of Grantham and Kesteven Hospital, Lincolnshire where she worked. She has since become one of Britain's most notorious female serial killers. Her method of murder was to inject the children with insulin to precipate cardiac arrest.

The victims

* Liam Taylor (aged seven months old)- was admitted to the ward for a chest infection and was murdered on 21 February 1991.
* Timothy Hardwick (aged eleven years old)- suffered cerebral palsy and was admitted to the ward after having an epileptic seizure. He was murdered on 5 March 1991.
* Kayley Desmond (then aged 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 aged 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 aged 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 (then aged 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 (aged two months old)- admitted to the ward for gastroenteritis on 1 April 1991. She was administered with an insulin overdose by Allitt and died at home two days later.
* Katie Phillips (then aged two months old)- the twin of Becky, she was admitted the ward as a precaution following the death of her sister. She had to be resuscitated twice after unexplained apneic episodes (which were later found to be due to insulin and potassium overdoses). Following the second time where she stopped breathing, she was transferred to another hospital but, by this time, has suffered permanent brain damage, partial paralysis and partial blindness due to oxygen deprivation. In a twist of fate, her parents had been so grateful to Allitt's care of Becky that they had asked her to be Katie's godmother.
* Claire Peck (aged 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.

The charges


Allitt had attacked thirteen children, four fatally, over a fifty-eight day period before she was brought up on charges for her crimes. It was only following the death of Claire Peck did medical staff become suspicious of the number of cardiac arrest on the children's ward and police were called in. 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. She was formally charged for murder, attempted murder and grievous bodily harm in November 1991. And, after a two-month trial, she was convicted for her crimes on 23 May 1993 and given thirteen life sentences before being incarcerated at Rampton Secure Hospital. Allitt's trial judge recommended she serve a minimum term of forty years, which would keep her in prison until at least 2032 and the age of sixty-four, 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.

Allitt's motives have never been fully explained. According to one theory, Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy explains her actions. This controversial personality disorder is described as involving a pattern of abuse in which a perpetrator physically falsifies illnesses in someone under their care, in order to attract attention.
Allitt is one of several serial killers mentioned in the 1994 song 'Archives of Pain', by Manic Street Preachers. In 2006, the BBC made a dramatisation of the story, Angel of Death: The Beverly Allitt Story, starring Charlie Brooks.


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