In 1991, Stuart Clifton was a detective superintendent with Lincolnshire Police when a phone call came in from Grantham Hospital saying they were looking into a number of suspicious deaths on a children's ward.
Over a period of just 59 days four babies had died after being brought to Ward Four with minor complaints, such as chest infections and gastroenteritis. A further nine had collapsed for inexplicable reasons, only to be resuscitated again.
Two years later, a 22-year-old nurse called Beverley Allitt would be convicted of those crimes. Dubbed The Angel Of Death, she was handed 13 life sentences and to this day remains locked up in Rampton Hospital, a secure psychiatric facility.
Why would a young woman trained to care for the most vulnerable members of society instead choose to harm and, ultimately, kill them?
As the detective who interviewed and analysed the behaviour of Allitt in the two years it took to bring the case to court, Mr Clifton believes he has unrivalled insight into why a nurse would go from healer to harmer.
"She always seemed to want to be the centre of attention,' he explains of Allitt. 'She wanted to be the one that was present, the one that raised the alarm, the one that went in the ambulance with the child when it was transferred to another hospital. It was almost as if she was putting herself centre stage and felt that she needed that adoration from other nursing staff and parents.
"Maybe a part of this was to show she was capable of doing the job but then, obviously, it went further. It went to the stage of her causing the injury that she subsequently then highlighted. I think certainly with Allitt it was this desire to be recognised, to be needed - and what I have seen of the Letby trial also seems to echo that need."
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Source: Mail Online, 23 August 2023