Beverly Allitt, better known as the "Angel of Death", is one of Britian's most notorious female serial killers. Her murderous spree was all the more shocking because she would befriend the parents of her victims who entrusted their children into her care.
As a child, Beverly would use factitious injuries in order to gain attention. She took to wearing bandages and casts over "wounds" but would not allow them to be examined. As a teenager an overweight Beverly began spending an excessive amount of time in hospitals with numerous physical complaints. At one point she convinced a surgeon to remove a perfectly healthy appendix. When they realized what she was doing she would doctor-shop, moving on from one physician to the next.
She attended Grantham college in Lincolnshire and trained as a nurse. Her bizarre behavior continued throughout her training. While working at a nursing home she was suspected of smearing feces on the walls. Her attendance during her training was poor due to her many illnesses and as a result she failed her nursing examinations. Still she was able to obtain a position at Grantham and Kesteven Hospital in Lincolnshire in 1991 as a State Enrolled Nurse. Beverly was assigned to Children's Ward 4.
On February 21, 1991 seven-week-old Liam Taylor was admitted to the ward for possible pneumonia. After Allitt had reassured his parents that he was in capable hands and would be well cared for they went home for the night. When they returned the next morning they were informed that he had suffered respiratory problems during the night but that he had recovered and appeared to be doing well. The next night Allitt volunteered for extra night duty. At one point during the night she was left alone with little Liam and moments later Allitt summoned the code team. He had stopped breathing. Despite the efforts of the team Liam had suffered severe brain damage and was being maintained on life support. Knowing that he would never recover his parents made the heart rending choice to remove him from life support. His death was listed as heart failure. Even though her fellow nurses were confused about the failure of the apnea monitors to alarm when Liam stopped breathing Allitt was never questioned.
Two weeks later, 11-year- old Timothy Hardwick, who suffered from cerebral palsy, was admitted after suffering an epileptic seizure. Allitt volunteered to care for him. Within a few moments of being left alone in her care, his heart stopped. And again, despite the efforts of the code team they were unable to revive him. His death was attributed to his epilepsy even though no obvious cause of death was found.
On March 3, 1991, one-year-old Kayley Desmond was admitted to Ward 4 for a chest infection. Allitt was assigned as her nurse. She was well on the road to recovery when 5 days later she inexplicably went into cardiac arrest. She was successfully resusitated and transferred to another hospital in Nottingham. While she was being examined the physicians noticed a peculiar puncture mark under her armpit and an air bubble. It appeared to be an accidental injection and was never investigated.
On March 20, 1991, five-month-old was admitted for Bronchitis. Shortly before he was to be discharged he was taken care of by Allitt. He was nearly comatose and when his blood was checked he was found to have a high level of insulin. He would suffer from the same symptoms three more times before he was transferred to another hospital in Nottingham. When he arrived at the hospital his blood was checked and he was again found to have a high level of insulin. The nurse that was sent with him in the ambulance was none other than Beverly Allitt. Miraculously he survived.
March 21, 1991, five-year-old Bradley Gibson was admitted for Pneumonia. Later that evening he went into cardiac arrest but was successfully resuscitated. When his blood was tested he was found to have a high level of insulin. He was cared for again by Allitt and his heart stopped again. After he was resuscitated he was transferred to another hospital in Nottingham.
Sadly no one was suspicious enough to connect the dots back to Allitt. She was free to continue wreaking havoc on poor defenseless babies.
March 21, 1991, two-year-old Yik Hung Chan was admitted to Ward 4 after falling from a window and suffering a skull fracture. While he was being cared for by Allitt, his oxygen levels dropped dangerously low twice. He was transferred to a larger hospital in Nottingham. His symptoms were attributed to his head injury.
On April 1, 1991, two-month-old Becky Phillips was admitted for a stomach virus. While being cared for by Allitt she began exhibiting symptoms of hypoglycemia. She was examined and finding nothing wrong Becky was sent home with her mother. During the night she went into convulsions and when her parents contact a physician they were told that she probably had colic. She died later that night.
As a precaution her twin sister, Katie Phillips was admitted to Ward 4. Not long after being cared for by Allitt she stopped breathing and had to be resuscitated. Two days later she stopped breathing again but this time she suffered permanent brain damage due to prolonged lack of oxygen. When she was transferred to another hospital it was later found that her apneic spells had been the result of her receiving large doses of insulin and potassium. Katie's mother Sue Phillips was so grateful to Allitt for saving her baby's life that she asked Allitt to be her child's godmother. Beverly Allitt graciously accepted.
Four more helpless victims fell prey to Allitt's vicious attacks but it would be the death of 15-month-old Claire Peck that would bring her murderous spree to an end.
On April 22, 1991 baby Claire was admitted to Ward 4 following a serious ashtma attack that required her to be placed on a ventilator. After being left alone with Allitt she suffered a cardiac arrest and had to be resuscitated. She was stabilized and then again left alone with Allitt. Shortly thereafter she suffered another heart attack and this time the doctors were not successful. When an autopsy was performed it was discovered that she had traces of Lignocaine in her tissues, a drug that is given during cardiac arrest but never to a baby.
When the police were finally notified they examined the records of 25 suspicious cases. In most instances the victims, four of whom were dead, either had high levels of insulin or potassium or both in their systems. The only common factor linking all the cases together was Beverly Allitt.
Beverly Allitt was eventually arrested and charged with 4 counts of murder, 11 counts of attempted murder and 11 counts of causing grievous bodily harm. While in prison awaiting trial she was examined by several healthcare professionals and found to be exhibiting symptoms of both Munchausen’s syndrome, and Munchausen’s syndrome by Proxy.
On May 23, 1993, Allitt was convicted and given 13 life sentences for murder and attempted murder. She is presently serving her sentence at Rampton Secure Hospital.