Beverley Gail Allitt is probably one of the worst kinds of mass killers: one that masquerades as someone doing good.
By relying on the trust of others, she murdered four children, and attempted to harm another nine.
The Life Of A Killer
Beverley Allitt was born on the 4th of October 1968. She was raised in the small village of Corby Glen in the United Kingdom. Her childhood was normal from the outside. She was one of four children, with two sisters and a brother. Her father worked in an off-license, while her mother was a school cleaner.
However from the inside, there were some worrying signs that something might not be right.
As a child, Beverley would wrap herself in bandages and casts, drawing attention to injuries but not allowing herself to be examined. She become even more attention-seeking as a teenager, spending time in hospitals attempting to get medical treatment for a number of physical ailments. She managed to convince a doctor to remove her perfectly healthy appendix, resulting in a slow-healing surgical scar that Beverley seemed to enjoy interfering with, again for attention.
She became known in her community, resulting in her ‘doctor-hopping’ to new practices in order to continue her habit. Almost all of these behaviours were typical of Munchausen’s syndrome, and people were catching on. When she could no longer get the reaction she desired, she began to hurt others in order to be noticed.
At 16, Beverley left school and decided to take a course in nursing at Grantham College. It was this career choice that made her one of Britain’s most notorious serial killers, who would one day be known as the Angel of Death.
The year was 1991. Beverley Allitt had finished her training as a nurse and, despite failing her nursing examinations and having a history of poor attendance, she was taken on a six-month contract. The location was the massively understated Grantham and Kesteven Hospital in Lincolnshire, and Allitt was assigned to Children’s Ward 4.
There were only two trained nurses there during the day, and one at night. If there had been more, perhaps Beverley’s murderous behaviours would have been noticed sooner.
On the 21st of February 1991, seven-month-old Liam Taylor was admitted to Ward 4 with a chest infection. Allitt assured his parents that he was in very capable hands, and essentially took over the child’s care. She encouraged his parents to go home and rest, allowing her access to him alone. He had a mysteriously unexplained cardiac arrest after Allitt was left alone to supervise him. Despite intervention, he suffered brain damage and ultimately died. Beverley Allitt had claimed her first victim.
The next was a mere two weeks later, when 11-year-old Timothy Hardwick was admitted. The boy had cerebral palsy and had suffered an epileptic fit on the 5th of March. Allitt again took over his care, and following a period when she was alone with him, she called for emergency resuscitation. Timothy was found in the bed without a pulse and turning blue. An autopsy found no sign of what had killed him.
Next was one-year-old Kayley Desmond, who escaped her clutches alive after being transferred to another hospital on the 8th of March. It was here that doctors discovered an unexplained puncture hole underneath her arm, along with an air bubble at the same sight. It was not investigated any further. Allitt failed to take a life again on the 20th of March, when five-month-old Paul Crampton kept going into unexplained insulin shock to the surprise of his doctors. Allitt stayed close by his side, attempting to murder him four times, including once in the ambulance as he was being transferred. Amazingly, he survived.
Just one day later, Allitt tried again, with five-year-old Bradley Gibson. He was suffering from pneumonia but was also found to have sky-high insulin after an unexplained cardiac arrest. Despite being attended by Allitt, doctors were not suspicious, allowing her to continue her violent behaviour.
On the 22nd of March, two-year-old Yik Hung Chan was found blue and in distress when Allitt was attending him alone. He recovered, but relapsed later the same day, also while alone with Allitt. He was transferred, with the turns blamed on a fall and subsequent head injury.
Allitt took a break at this point, going dormant for a few days until April 1st when twin girls Katie and Becky Phillips, just two months old, were admitted to the hospital. They appeared to have gastro-enteritis, and again Allitt took charge.
Two days later, after being alone with Allitt, Becky was found to be hypoglycaemic and cold to the touch. Doctors had no idea what was wrong, and she recovered. So they sent her home. She died later that night after having a fit, but no cause could be found. Her sister Katie was admitted to the hospital again as a precaution, again falling under the care of Allitt. She stopped breathing twice in two days, and her lungs collapsed. When she was transferred, doctors at another hospital found that five of her ribs were broken, and she had serious brain damage.
The death of 15-month-old Claire Peck on April 22nd was the end of Beverley’s spree. In Allitt’s care for just a few minutes, the baby, who had asthma and was using a breathing tube, suffered an unexplained heart attack. She was revived, but later the same day when again in Allitt’s care, she had another attack. The baby couldn’t be revived, and staff had begun to take notice.
Trial And Justice
A consultant at the hospital, Dr. Nelson Porter, began to get suspicious about the number of cardiac arrests over a two-month period at Ward 4 that involved a high amount of insulin. When further testing on the final victim showed an unusually raised level of potassium, the police were called. Evidence began to stack up. Allitt had reported the key to the insulin refrigerator was missing, and some nursing logs had disappeared as well. Eventually, police realised that the only common thread in the 13 cases of death or almost death was one nurse: Beverley Allitt.
In November of 1991, Beverley Allitt was officially charged with murder. She was surprisingly calm when being interrogated, denying her involvement at all levels. Of course police knew something was up. Searches of her home had turned up the missing nursing logs, and interviews with her family and friends told them that Allitt likely had a serious personality disorder. She had exhibited signs of both Munchausen’s syndrome and Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy. They believed she had started harming her patients in her bid to be noticed. However, despite several assessments and visits by health care professionals, she refused to admit what she had done.
Eventually, Beverley Allitt was charged with four counts of murder, 11 counts of attempted murder, and 11 counts of causing grievous bodily harm. While awaiting trial, she lost a large amount of weight and developed anorexia nervosa, causing delays. It wasn’t until February of 1993 that the trial finally went ahead, and two months later, the verdict was clear. Allitt was given 13 life sentences, the harshest sentence ever served to a female criminal, but one that the justice in charge felt was deserved in full.
However, because of Allitt’s many psychological conditions, she was not sent to prison. Rather, she was incarcerated at a high-security facility in Nottingham. Here, she must serve a minimum sentence of 30 years before being eligible for parole, and only under the proviso that she is no longer a danger to the public.