Beverley Gail Allitt, also known as the “Angel of Death”, was born on 4 October 1968 and grew up in the village of Corby Glen, near the town of Grantham. Her father, Richard, worked in an off-licence and her mother was a school cleaner. She had two sisters and a brother. During her early years, Allitt failed the test to enter Kesteven & Grantham Girls’ School and attended Charles Read Secondary Modern School.
While growing up, Beverley Gail exhibited some unusual tendencies to draw attention, which includes wearing bandages and casts over imaginary wounds without allowing anybody to be examined. Gradually she became more and more attention-seeking, often showing aggression, as she was becoming overweight as an adolescent. She spent considerable time in hospitals seeking medical attention for a series of physical ailments. She had gall bladder pain, headaches, urinary infections, uncontrolled vomiting, blurred vision, ulcers, appendicitis, and back trouble. Even, she persuaded a doctor to remove her healthy appendix, and then failed to heal because she kept plucking at the surgical scar. She also resorted to self- inflicted harm with the intention of “doctor- hopping”. This type of unusual behavior is said to be related to Munchausen by Proxy syndrome (MHBP). When this behavior failed to draw her much desired special attention, she became aggressive and began to harm others in order to satisfy her desire to be noticed.
While she was a trainee nurse, Beverley was suspected of odd behavior, such as smearing feces on walls in a nursing home where she was taking practical training. Her absentee level was also exceptionally high, which was related to a series of illnesses. Later, it was reported by her boyfriend at that time that she was aggressive, manipulative and deceptive, claiming false pregnancy, as well as rape, before the end of the relationship.
However, despite her history of poor attendance and successive failure of her nursing examinations, she was absorbed on a temporary six-month contract at Grantham & Kesteven Hospital, a chronically understaffed hospital in Lincolnshire in 1991. When Beverley Gail joined, the hospital had two trained nurses on the day-shift and only one for nights and that explains why her violent, attention-seeking behavior went undetected for as long as it did.
Her first victim, 7-month-old Liam Taylor, was admitted to Ward 4 of Grantham & Kesteven Hospital with a chest infection on the 21st day February 1991. Allitt assured his parents and persuaded them to go home to get some rest. When they returned, Allitt told them that Liam had suffered a respiratory emergency, but had recovered. However, just before midnight, Liam had another respiratory crisis, but it was felt that he would come through it satisfactorily. Allitt was left alone with the boy. Surprisingly, his condition worsened suddenly and dramatically. He became ghastly pale before red blotches appeared on his face, at which point Allitt summoned the emergency resuscitation team. Everybody was confused by the absence of alarm monitors at the critical time, when Liam stopped breathing. Liam suffered cardiac arrest and, despite the best efforts of the attending team, he suffered severe brain damage, and remained alive in a coma, only with the help of life-support machines. After much deliberation and consultation with the medical board, his parents made the agonizing decision to remove their baby from life support, and his cause of death was recorded as heart failure. The boy with no history of heart disease, succumbed to heart failure. Beverley watched the entire incident, then put on her coat and went home. She committed murder and believed no one would ever know.
That was the beginning of Allitt’s killing spree. After four more similar incidents, the hospital authority became suspicious about the unexplained attacks in otherwise healthy patients, and Allitt’s conspicuous presence during those attacks. Ultimately, Allitt’s violent spree was brought to an end on 22 April 1991, with the death of 15-month-old Claire Peck, a critical asthmatic who required a breathing tube. While under the care of Allitt for only a few minutes, the infant suffered a heart attack. With great effort, the resuscitating medical team revived her successfully. However, again, when she was alone in Allitt’s presence, baby Claire suffered a second massive attack, from which she could not be revived. The autopsy report indicated that Claire had died from natural causes, yet an inquiry was initiated by Dr. Nelson, a consultant at the hospital, who was alarmed by the high number of cardiac arrests over the previous two months only on Ward 4 of the hospital. However, after 18 days of the incident, the authority had to contact the police department, since a pathological test reported a high level of potassium in baby Claire’s blood. Traces of Lignocaine in her system were also discovered from her exhumation. Lignocaine is a drug used during cardiac arrest, but it should not be used in case of a baby. It was also revealed that Allitt had reported the key missing to the insulin refrigerator. Suspicions were raised when record checks revealed missing daily nursing logs. It was observed that out of twenty-five separate suspicious episodes, thirteen victims were identified, four of whom were dead, and the only common factor relating to all of them was the conspicuous presence of Beverley Allitt at every fatal episode.
The police became convinced and confident by 26 July 1991, about having sufficient evidence to charge Allitt with multiple murders, but it was not until November 1991 that she was formally charged.
During interrogation, Beverley kept her cool, and denied all the charges. After a series of hearings, Allitt was charged with four counts of murder, 11 counts of attempted murder, and 11 counts of causing grievous bodily harm. During the trial, Beverley Allitt reportedly lost weight and developed anorexia nervosa, a further indication of her psychological problems. After much delay due to her innumerable “illnesses”, (as a result of which she had lost 70 pounds) she went to trial at Nottingham Crown Court on February 15, 1993. The prosecutors demonstrated to the jury how Beverley had been present at each suspicious episode and the lack of episodes when she was not in the ward. Evidence against her was produced about the high readings of insulin and potassium in each of the victims, as well as drug injection and puncture marks. She was further accused of cutting off her victim’s oxygen connection, either by smothering, or by tampering with the machines. Finally, on 23 May 1993, Allitt was convicted and given 13 life sentences for murder and attempted murder. It was the harshest sentence ever delivered to a female in the UK.
Due to the impact of Allitt’s case, the Maternity unit of the Grantham & Kesteven Hospital was closed down altogether. However, instead of going to prison, Allitt was detained at Rampton Secure Hospital in Nottingham, high-security facility housing under the Mental Health Act. As an inmate at Rampton, she immediately started her attention seeking behavior, ingesting ground glass and pouring boiling water on her hand. Subsequently, Allitt admitted to three of the murders of which she was charged, as well as six of the assaults. The appalling nature of her crimes has placed her on the Home Office list of criminals who will never be eligible for parole.
It is interesting to note here that, Rampton is more like a holiday camp than a prison. The facility, which has some 1,400 staff to deal with around 400 inmates, costs taxpayers around $3,000 per week, per inmate, to administer. It was reported in 2001 that, Beverley was to marry a fellow inmate, Mark Heggie, although she is currently still single. Most recently, she was the subject of a Mirror Newspaper inquiry in May 2005, when it was revealed that she received over $40,000 in State benefits since her incarceration in 1993.