Four children mysteriously died at Grantham Hospital. Then, doctors noticed something odd. 

It was February 1991, when eight-week-old Liam Taylor was admitted to Gantham and Kesteven Hospital paediatric unit with a chest infection.

His condition was not considered serious by doctors, and the nurse on duty assured the parents he would be out of hospital in no time.

And then suddenly, without warning, he died.

Liam’s parents were told his death was a result of an undiagnosed heart condition.

Less than two weeks later, 11-year-old Timothy Hardwick, a boy with cerebral palsy, was admitted to hospital after an epileptic seizure.

Suddenly, the emergency resuscitation team was summoned, and they found Timothy turning blue and without a pulse.

Timothy’s parents were told his death was due to his epilepsy, though an autopsy could not find any clear cause.

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In the same week, one-year-old Kayley Desmond arrived at Gantham and Kesteven Hospital with a chest infection, though she seemed to be recovering well.

After a few days in Ward 4, in the same bed where Liam had died two weeks before, Kayley went into cardiac arrest.

Unlike those before her, she was successfully revived, and taken to a different facility. There, they noticed something odd.

Upon thorough examination, a doctor discovered a small hole under Kayley’s arm – as though it had been punctured with something. It was put down to an accidental injection, along with the strange air bubble right next to it.

Over the next six weeks, there were a series of unexplained events. A five-month-old with a bronchial infection experienced life-threatening fluctuations in his insulin levels. A five-year-old pneumonia sufferer had a heart attack. Two seemingly healthy twins became extremely sick, and despite no illness found, one twin was sent home with her parents and died over night. The surviving twin, when brought into hospital the next day, suddenly stopped breathing. By the time she was transferred to another hospital, it was discovered five of her ribs were broken, and she had suffered brain damage.

But it would take the death of 15-month-old Claire Peck, in April of that same year, to raise suspicions with the police.

Claire was asthmatic, and after being in the hospital for only minutes, she suffered a heart attack. Initially revived, Claire soon suffered a second heart attack, which would claim her life.

A hospital consultant, Dr Nelson Porter, could not understand why the rates of cardiac arrest among babies and children were so high over the last two months.

At first, they suspected a virus, but that was quickly dismissed.

Then they noticed an unusual drug in Claire’s blood system – Lignocaine – which is strictly never to be administered to babies.

Immediately, Police Superintendent Stuart Clifton suspected someone inside the hospital was responsible. In most deaths, unusually high levels of insulin had been found, and the key to the fridge where insulin was stored had been reported missing.

But it was the nursing logs that offered the most valuable clue.

Pages had been torn out, and records were missing on 25 separate occasions. And there was one common denominator.

The presence of nurse Beverley Allitt during every episode.

The 23-year-old nurse had also been the person to raise the alarm about the missing key. She had also been the nurse suggesting parents go home, and leave their sick children in her capable care. It would later be found that she was administering high levels of insulin and potassium into her victims, via an injection in the armpit. In some patients, she cut off oxygen or tampered with medical equipment.

When police searched her home, they found the missing pages of the nursing log. And then they began to explore her history.

At school, Beverley had suffered countless ‘illnesses’. She was always complaining of pain, or telling a story of how she endured some horrific injury. She would turn up to school covered in bandages, but to classmates, it seemed like there was nothing beneath them.

She had a boyfriend, Stephen, who she refused to touch in public. They had sex once a month and fought violently. At the hospital, she would tell fellow staff about a ghost that stabbed her pillow, and fed tablets to the neighbour’s dog. Police were once called to her house and found what they believed to be human faeces in the fridge.

It was believed Beverley had a personality disorder, along with Manchausen’s syndrome, and the related condition, Manchausen’s syndrome by proxy. The latter refers to people who intentionally hurt others, through injury or illness, in order to ‘care’ for them.

In 1993, two years after her initial conviction, Beverley was found guilty of the murder of four children, the attempted murder of three children, and causing grievous bodily harm with intent on six children and sentenced to 13 concurrent terms of life imprisonment.

It was the most severe sentence ever delivered to a female.

Now, age 49, Beverley is often referred to as ‘The Angel of Death’ – a woman responsible for unimaginable cruelty, perpetrated against our most vulnerable.

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