A jury foreman who helped convict a nurse of murdering four elderly patients has appealed for the verdict to be quashed – saying he now believes that the man is innocent.
Colin Norris, 38, was sentenced to life for the murder of four patients and the attempted killing of a fifth at hospitals in Leeds where he worked as a nurse.
But Paul Moffitt, the foreman of the jury that found him guilty at Newcastle Crown Court in 2008, today came forward to ask for Norris’ conviction to be overturned.
Mr Moffitt said his mind had been changed by a BBC Panorama investigation suggesting that the women – Doris Ludlam, 80, Bridget Bourke, 88, Irene Crookes, 79, and Ethel Hall, 86 – may have died of natural causes.
Mr Moffitt, 36, told the BBC: “I’d like to see Colin Norris freed. If this case was presented with this new evidence today, I don’t even know how it could possibly get to court in the first place.”
Adding that he felt it was his duty to speak out, he said that he now believed “the evidence shows that a murder wasn’t committed at all, never mind four or one attempted murder”.
Mr Moffitt said that if Norris was freed, his case could represent one of the biggest miscarriages of justice in British legal history. “I don’t think there’s ever been a serial killer who’s had his conviction quashed.”
UK miscarriages of justice
UK miscarriages of justice
1/5 Birmingham Six
The Birmingham Six were sentenced to life in prison in 1975 over a bombing in the Midlands. Their convictions were quashed in 1991 and were awarded compensation of up to £1.2 million. L to R: William Power, Richard McIlkenny, John Walker, Chris Mullin MP, Gerry Hunter, Patrick Hill and Hugh Callaghan
2/5 Sally Clark
Solicitor Sally Clark, who was convicted of killing her two baby sons on the basis of expert evidence in 1999 but later cleared on appeal. She died in 2007 from alcohol poisoning.
3/5 Sam Hallam
Sam Hallam was one of the youngest victims of miscarriage of justice aged 17. He was convicted of murder after a trainee chef was stabbed during a fight in London and his conviction was thrown out by the Court of Appeal in 2012 after he spent seven years in jail.
4/5 Victor Nealon
Victor Nealon spent 17 years in prison for attempted rape from 1997 until his conviction was quashed and he was released last year.
5/5 Barry George
Barry George was wrongly convicted of murdering TV presenter Jill Dando in 2001 and spent seven years in prison before he was acquitted in 2008.
Mr Moffitt is the second juror to express concerns about the Norris verdict, according to the BBC.
Although jurors are discouraged from identifying themselves and talking to the media after a trial, they are not forbidden from doing so unless they disclose “statements made, opinions expressed, arguments advanced or votes cast by members of a jury”.
Norris, from Glasgow, was accused of injecting the women who died with lethal doses of insulin at Leeds General Infirmary and the city’s St James’s Hospital in 2002.
He was also convicted of attempting to murder Vera Wilby, 90.
During his trial, the court heard tests on Mrs Hall, who was recovering from hip surgery at the time of her death, showed about 12 times the normal level of insulin in her blood.
But during the Panorama investigation, broadcast last month, the prosecution case was challenged by Professor Terry Wilkin, an Exeter University endocrinologist, Dr Adel Ismail, a retired clinical biochemist, and Professor Vincent Mark, an insulin poisoning expert.
Claims made in the programme included suggestions that it would have required just over a litre of insulin – an “unrealistic” amount for an injection – to produce the blood test results found in Mrs Hall’s case.
The blood test could instead have been explained by a rare condition called insulin auto-immune syndrome, Panorama claimed. It was also suggested that hypoglycaemia, low blood sugar, occurs naturally in up to 10 per cent of sick, elderly people, meaning a cluster of cases did not necessarily mean murder was involved.
The Panorama researchers also reported that police discounted the case of a sixth patient, who suffered a similar fatal hypoglycaemic episode to the other women, when it was realised that Norris had not been on shift at the time.
A spokesman for the Criminal Cases Review Commission told the BBC: “The commission is actively reviewing the case.”Reuse content