Beverley Gail Allitt
4 October 1968
|Other names||The Angel of Death|
|Motive||Attention due to Munchausen syndrome by proxy|
|Criminal penalty||13 life sentences without the possibility of parole, 4 counts of murder, 5 counts of attempted murder, 6 counts of GBH|
|Victims||13 (4 deaths)|
Span of crimes
|February 1991–April 1991|
|Weapon||Insulin, giving air as iv.|
Beverley Gail Allitt (born 4 October 1968) is an English serial child killer who was convicted of murdering four children, attempting to murder three other children, and causing grievous bodily harm to a further six. The crimes were committed over a period of 59 days from February and April 1991 in the children's ward at Grantham and Kesteven Hospital, Lincolnshire, where Allitt was employed as a State Enrolled Nurse. She is supposed to have 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. In May 1993, at Nottingham Crown Court, she received thirteen 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. She is detained at Rampton Secure Hospital in Nottinghamshire.
Beverley Allitt was born on 4 October 1968 and grew up in the village of Corby Glen, near the town of Grantham. She had two sisters and a brother. Her father, Richard, worked in an off-licence, and her mother as a school cleaner. Allitt attended Charles Read Secondary Modern School, having failed the test to enter Kesteven and Grantham Girls' School. She would often volunteer for baby-sitting jobs and left school at the age of 16, taking a course in nursing at Grantham College.
- Liam Taylor (seven weeks old)– was admitted to the ward for a chest infection and was murdered on 22 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.
- 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; her death was originally believed to have been cot death.
- 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 went into cardiac arrest. She was resuscitated but died after a second episode of cardiac arrest, again following a period when she was left alone with Allitt.
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- 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 the 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.
- Michael Davidson (then six years old) – admitted to the ward for post-operative care following an operation to remove an air rifle pellet that he had been injured with in an accident. After being injected with insulin multiple times through a cannula on his hand, he suffered from cyanosis and fell unconscious before being stabilised by other doctors on the ward. He later made a full recovery.
- 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.
- 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 caused by 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 for 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.
Trial and imprisonment
Allitt had attacked thirteen children, four fatally, over a 59-day period before she was brought up on charges for her crimes. It was only following the death of Peck that medical staff became suspicious of the number of cardiac arrests 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.
Four of Allitt's victims had died. She was charged with four counts of murder, eleven counts of attempted murder and eleven counts of causing grievous bodily harm. Allitt entered pleas of not guilty to all charges. On 28 May 1993 she was found guilty on each charge and sentenced to thirteen concurrent terms of life imprisonment, which she is serving at Rampton Secure Hospital in Nottinghamshire.
In the 2018 documentary Trevor McDonald and the Killer Nurse, Allitt reportedly told close friends before her trial that she would never go to prison. After one week in prison she refused to eat or drink and was moved to Rampton Secure Hospital. Two leading experts, forensic psychologist Jeremy Coid and criminologist Elizabeth Yardley examined Allitt's mental state when she was arrested and concluded she was not mentally ill and should be in prison, not hospital. Allitt reportedly admitted to all 13 of her crimes in a failed application to remain at Rampton Secure Hospital and permanently avoid prison. None of the families of Allitt's victims had been told of her full confession in the failed application.
On 6 December 2007, Mr Justice Stanley Burnton, sitting in the High Court of Justice, London, confirmed that Allitt must serve the original minimum sentence of thirty years. It was reported that some families of Allitt's victims had previously mistakenly believed that her minimum tariff had been set at forty years.
Allitt's motives have never been fully explained. According to one theory, she showed symptoms of factitious disorder, also known as Munchausen syndrome or Munchausen syndrome by proxy. This disorder is described as involving a pattern of abuse in which a perpetrator ascribes to, or physically falsifies illnesses in, someone under their care to attract attention to themselves.
In popular culture
Allitt was the subject of a book called Murder on Ward Four by Nick Davies. A BBC dramatisation of the case, Angel of Death (2005), featured Charlie Brooks as Allitt. Allitt's story was depicted in episodes of the true crime documentaries Crimes That Shook Great Britain, Deadly Women, Born To Kill?, Evil Up Close, and Nurses Who Kill. and Martina Cole's Lady Killers. The song "Hand That Rocks the Cradle" on Black Sabbath's 1994 album Cross Purposes is about the case.
- John Bodkin Adams
- Leonard Arthur
- Kristen Gilbert
- Harold Shipman
- Maxim Petrov
- Michael Swango
- Dorothea Waddingham
- Katz, Ian (18 May 1993). "The verdicts: Beverley Allitt". The Guardian. London.
- "Nurse 'only link to children's deaths'". The Guardian. London. 16 February 1993.
- Jenkins, Lin (18 May 1993). "Shadows of death fell across Ward 4". The Times. London.
- Jenkins, Lin (18 May 1993). "Killings fed a craving for attention". The Times. London.
- Foster, Jonathan (15 October 1993). "Child murderer confesses at last". The Independent. London.
- Weale, Sally (29 May 1993). "Allitt jailed 'with no prospect of release'". The Guardian. London.
- Foster, Jonathan (2 February 1994). "Warning signs about Allitt 'overlooked'". The Independent. London.
- "Drawn curtains in a silent village: The Beverly Allitt case: on Friday". 22 May 1993. Retrieved 24 September 2016.
- John Askill; Martyn Sharpe (7 January 2014). Angel of Death: Killer Nurse Beverly Allitt. Michael OMara. pp. 84–. ISBN 978-1-78243-245-6.
- "Child killer Allitt's tariff set". BBC News. London. 6 December 2007. Retrieved 29 August 2013.
- Appleyard, W. J. (29 January 1994). "Murder in the NHS". BMJ. 308 (6924): 287–288. doi:10.1136/bmj.308.6924.287. PMC 2539291. PMID 8124115. Retrieved 6 February 2007.
- Murray, Ian (16 February 1993). "Hospital nurse denies killing babies with insulin injections". The Times. London.
- Robinson, Oonagh (28 November 2011). "Behind the scenes at Rampton". Nottingham Evening Post. Nottingham. p. 12.
- "Beverly Allitt: Suffer the Children". The Crime Library. 10 May 2000. Archived from the original on 8 February 2007. Retrieved 6 February 2007.
- Trevor McDonald and the Killer Nurse on IMDB.com
- Batty, David (6 December 2007). "Serial killer nurse Allitt must serve 30 years". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 29 August 2013.
- "Famous Criminals: Beverley Allitt". Crime & Investigation Network. 10 February 2005. Archived from the original on 21 November 2007. Retrieved 6 February 2007.
- "Angel of Death: The Beverly Allitt Story". crimedocumentary.com. Retrieved 14 October 2017.
- ""Crime+Investigation" information on Allitt".
- ""Crime+Investigation" TV shows on Allitt".