Jealous, battered, bad or mad?

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Susan Christie, a UDR private, knifed her lover's wife, Penny McAllister, in woodland in Northern Ireland in 1992. Her lawyers claimed that she had been suffering from premenstrual tension. She was sentenced to five years for manslaughter, but released in October this year after serving three and a half years.

Ruth Ellis, a nightclub manageress and the last woman to be hanged in Britain, was executed in 1955 for killing her racing-driver boyfriend, David Blakeley, after discovering that he was having an affair. She shot him outside a pub in Hampstead, London.

Beverley Allitt, a nurse, was given 13 life sentences in 1993 for murdering four children, attempting to kill three more and harming six others in 1991 at Grantham Hospital in Lincolnshire. She injected lethal doses of potassium and insulin into several of her patients. She was diagnosed as a sufferer of Munchausen's Syndrome by proxy, where carers inflict illnesses on those they care for in order to draw attention to themselves. She is currently serving life at Rampton top security hospital.

In May this year, Joy Senior stabbed her three young children at her home in Norfolk before switching on the gas, slashing her wrists and throat and crashing her car. She died from drowning in a woodland pool. She suffered from acute psychosis and was obsessed with her former boyfriend Sean Sutherland, whom she credited with supernatural powers. He told her he would win the lottery if she kept the prophecy a secret. He didn't win and she blamed herself for talking about the draw before it happened.

Kiranjit Ahluwalia killed her husband, Deepak, in 1989 by setting fire to petrol which she poured over him while he was sleeping. In 1992 she appealed against a life sentence. Lord Taylor ordered a retrial, saying she suffered from "battered wives syndrome". Deepak had beaten and raped his wife repeatedly. She was released from prison in 1993.

Caroline Beale was arrested in September 1994 at John F Kennedy airport, New York, carrying a dead baby under her coat. She says the baby, her daughter, was born dead. She has been charged with murder and is awaiting trial. She allegedly suffered from psychosis caused by hormonal imbalance.