Nurse murdered patients in quest for medical thrills

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The Independent Online

A nurse who craved the excitement of medical emergency has been found guilty of murdering two patients by deliberately injecting them with lethal doses of drugs.

Benjamin Geen, 25, waited for vulnerable patients to be admitted to the accident and emergency department of the Horton General Hospital in Banbury, Oxfordshire, and then found a way becoming involved in their treatment.

The result was always the same - the patient's condition rapidly deteriorated and Geen was on hand to help revive them. But in two cases, his intervention proved lethal. The judge hearing the case said Geen appeared to have been thrilled by bringing patients to the point of death and then helping to revive them.

Yesterday a jury at Oxford Crown Court found Geen, of Banbury, guilty of two charges of murder and 15 counts of grievous bodily harm against patients. He murdered David Onley, 75, from Deddington, who died on 21 January 2004, and Anthony Bateman, 66, from Banbury, who died on 6 January 2004. Both were very ill when they were admitted to hospital. Once Geen had intervened, they did not stand a chance.

During the two-month trial, the court heard how Geen "came alive" and looked "elated" as his patients went into respiratory arrest. Geen even boasted about the medical emergencies during his shifts and told one doctor: "There is always a resuscitation when I'm on duty."

Doctors were bewildered by the unexplained respiratory failures - normally very rare events - which happened between December 2003 and February 2004. Eventually they decided to take action. Over one weekend senior staff at the hospital sat down with the case notes of hundreds of patients whose outcomes they could not explain.

The file was whittled down to 18 cases. Benjamin Geen was the common factor in every one. Staff at the hospital called the police and Geen was arrested as he arrived for work the next day - with a full syringe of vecuronium, a muscle-relaxant used in anaesthetics, in his pocket. Since then, instances of respiratory failure have virtually disappeared at the hospital.

Michael Austin Smith QC, for the prosecution, told the jury Geen must have known the fatal consequences of what he was doing but found that toying with patients' lives was a "price he was willing to pay in order to satisfy his perverse needs". He said: "Most were lucky - two were not. And on February 9 when Geen went back to work with that loaded syringe, was there somebody else who was extremely lucky that the authorities had nailed their man?"

Mr Justice Crane asked to see psychological reports on Geen before passing sentence. "These are such unusual offences and the motive is such a strange one and not in any sense entirely normal, I think I should not sentence until I have got a full picture."

Detective Superintendent Andy Taylor, who led the police investigation, said: "For those who have lost loved ones this has been even more difficult ... When someone is admitted to hospital there is an expectation that they will receive the treatment, care and nursing that will help them get through their illness."

Speaking after the verdict, one of Geen's first victims, Robert Robinson, a former policeman who now helps run a business in Sri Lanka, said his life had been devastated by Geen's attack. Mr Robinson, 51, was admitted to hospital after he drank a bottle of gin and took painkillers. But he stopped breathing when he was given the anaesthetic which he did not need. "I'm just trying to get my life back together. It's going to take time... I find the simplest thing very difficult to do. When I was in Sri Lanka I used to parasail and jetski. I could never do that now."