Mother tells of baby's death at hospital: The Ward 4 murder trial

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The Independent Online
MOMENTS after her daughter died, Susan Peck looked round the hospital treatment room for support from doctors and nurses. She was fixed by the stare of Beverley Allitt, Nottingham Crown Court was told yesterday.

'Everybody else looked away or looked at the floor,' Mrs Peck said. The nurse 'was just stood there, staring straight at me'.

Ms Allitt, 24, denies the murder of 15-month-old Claire Peck and three other patients at Grantham and Kesteven district hospital, and pleads not guilty to 11 charges of attempted murder. She was not in court to hear the prosecution case continue but remained in hospital following a deterioration in her anorexic disorder.

Mrs Peck yesterday told the jury that Claire was admitted to the hospital on 22 April 1991 during an asthma attack and was taken to ward four's treatment room. Ms Allitt was standing by the door. Nelson Porter, consultant paediatrician, connected Claire to an intravenous drip.

Mrs Peck waited for more than an hour to see Claire again. Then she realised for the first time that her daughter was dangerously ill.

Later, Mrs Peck asked again to see Claire. 'I didn't get there,' she said.

Earlier in the trial, John Goldring QC, for the prosecution, told the jury that Ms Allitt was twice left alone with Claire. On both occasions, Claire subsequently suffered attacks, her body turning blue as she stopped breathing. More than twice the normal level of potassium, a medication readily available to the nurse, was found in Claire's blood.

Questioning Mr Porter for the defence, James Hunt QC, said a health authority report alleged in November 1991 that the hospital's special baby unit, run by the same doctors that worked on ward four, provided 'substandard care which is dangerous'. Mr Porter told the jury that he was 'upset' about the claims. It was untrue that he did not speak or communicate with Charith Nanayakkara, the other consultant paediatrician with whom he ran the unit and ward four.

Mr Hunt suggested preparation and administration of drugs by doctors had been criticised, and contemporaneous notes not kept on patients. Mr Porter said he was not aware of bad or unhygienic practice.

The trial continues today.