Beverley Allitt is an English serial killer who murdered four children and attempted to murder several others. She also caused serious bodily harm to six more. She is known as one of the most notorious serial killers of England. Also called the ‘Angel of Death’, she was a nurse who worked at the Grantham Hospital in Lincolnshire. Though her motives are still not clear, it has been stated that she suffers from a psychiatric disorder known as Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy, which can lead to the desire to murder or cause harm to others with the intent to gain attention. She committed her crimes over a period of 59 days between February and April 1991 in the children’s ward of the hospital where she worked. Her trial judge recommended that she be sentenced to a minimum term of 40 years; she was eventually sentenced to 30. She is currently serving her sentence at the Rampton Secure Hospital in Nottinghamshire. BBC made a dramatization of her story named ‘The Angel of Death’ in which her character was portrayed by Charlie Brooks.
Childhood & Early Life
Beverley Gail Allitt was born on 4th October 1968 in Grantham, Lincolnshire. She grew up in a village named Corby Glen. Her mother worked as a school cleaner while her father, Richard, worked in an off-licence liquor shop. She has one brother and two sisters.
During her early years, she was known to wear bandages and casts despite not having any major injuries, just to gain the attention of others. She also used to visit hospitals for illnesses she didn’t have. This eventually led the unnecessary removal of her appendix.
As she grew up, she became an outcast. She also acted violently against her boyfriend and make false claims of rape and pregnancy. Her boyfriend claimed later that she was aggressive, deceptive, and manipulative.
In 1991, she was accepted into a six-month program at the Grantham and Kesteven Hospital as they were in need of more workers.
She used to display odd behavior such as smearing human excreta on the walls of the nursing home where she studied. She also remained absent for most of the classes, due to claims of illness.
Despite her poor attendance and failure in examinations, she was accepted on a six-month contract as the hospital was understaffed at that time. She began working in the children’s ward where there were two nurses on the day shift but only one at night. This helped her crimes go undetected for some time.
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While she was working at the Grantham Hospital, Beverley Allitt started committing her crimes. The first victim whose life she took was a seven-week-old infant named Liam Taylor, who had been admitted for chest infection. He died on 21 February 1991 but no one suspected any foul play in his death.
Her second victim was Timothy Hardwick, an eleven-year-old boy who suffered from cerebral palsy. He was admitted after having an epileptic seizure. She killed him on 5 March 1991.
Her third murder victim was Becky Philips, who was only two months old and had been admitted for gastroenteritis. Her fourth victim was fifteen-month-old Claire Peck, who had been admitted after suffering an asthma attack. She went into cardiac arrest twice when left alone with Allitt and died.
Allitt also attempted to murder a few other children including Kayley Desmond, Paul Crampton, Yik Hung Chan, Katie Philips and Bradley Gibson. Fortunately, all five survived and recovered after they were transferred to another hospital though Katie suffered permanent brain damage.
It was only after the death of Claire Peck that the hospital staff became suspicious of her, as it was found that she was the only nurse on duty for all the children who died or suffered serious threats to their lives at the hospital.
Trial & Conviction
Beverly Allitt was eventually charged with four counts of murder, 11 counts of attempted murder, and 11 counts of causing serious bodily harm. She entered pleas of not guilty to all charges. She was eventually found guilty of all charges and sentenced to thirteen concurrent terms of life imprisonment. She is currently serving her sentences at the Rampton Secure Hospital in Nottinghamshire.
It was recommended by her trial judge that she serve a minimum term of 40 years, and be released only if she is no longer a threat to the society. This was also one of the longest sentences ever received by a woman. She launched an appeal against the length of her sentence and in December 2007, the High Court ruled that she would serve at least 30 years in prison.
Due to her barbaric actions, she was listed as one of the criminals unqualified for parole. The hospital also had to be closed down due to her actions. Till date, she is counted as one of the cruelest serial killers in the history of England.
Though her motives are still not fully known, it has been stated that she suffers from a mental disorder known as Münchausen syndrome by proxy. People suffering from the disorder are likely to cause harm to the ones under their care in order to attract attention to themselves.
BBC made a dramatization of her story in 2005, titled ‘Angel of Death’. Her story was also depicted in an episode of the crime documentary ‘Crimes That Shook Great Britain’.
She was featured in the series ‘Evil Up Close-The Ward Assassin’ as well as in the Netflix series ‘Nurses Who Kill’.