Parents critical over planned inquiry: The Beverly Allitt case: Victims' families struggle to come to terms with the killings

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The Independent Online
NO AMOUNT of justice will help the families of Beverly Allitt's victims as they struggle to come to terms with the suffering and death caused by the nurse.

Kath and David Crampton have coped better than most. Their boy, Paul, recovered from Allitt's huge dose of insulin. His case was the first police confirmed as a criminal attack.

For a mother who, soon after her child was admitted to Ward 4, was suspicious that 'there was a problem at the hospital', it was, in part, a reassuring confirmation of her intuitive perception. 'It got better knowing there was nothing wrong with Paul. But it remained a worry that somebody had been out to get him,' she said.

Mrs Crampton felt uncomfortable yesterday as the parents' held a press conference to protest their anger that Allitt's crimes will not be the subject of a full, statutory public inquiry. She does not want to be a celebrity in Grantham's most macabre episode.

Nor does Joanne Taylor, the mother of the first baby Allitt killed. She wants the focus turned on those who put Allitt in uniform, put her on a ward, put her close to dangerous drugs, and failed to detect - or later, report - that an epidemic had broken out. She said the inquiry planned by Trent Regional Health Authority and Virginia Bottomley, Secretary of State for Health, would be 'incomplete and inconclusive'.

The Taylors seem formidably complete. Chris Taylor, a smart and proud man, gave evidence at the trial, recalling his son's death. It was a concise account from a man who had experienced profound grief before reconciling himself to an agony that will always be there.

Joanne Taylor is pregnant. If, when she is sentenced next week, Allitt looks across court to the Taylors and their supportive, extended family, she will see an awesome invincibility. 'There is a lot to come out,' Chris Taylor said yesterday. He meant the details of how responsibility for Allitt's actions had been allegedly obscured and concealed. But, in some of the other families, there are more threatening influences. Marriages are at risk. 'It may be profoundly depressing to see in five years' time how many of the parents are still together,' a close observer of the families said.

'In the main, the women have been better at coping with the trauma than the men. Sometimes, it has been a case of one partner wanting to talk about what happening and the other saying 'Let's forget about it'.

'Then, two or three weeks later, the roles have been reversed. Without emotional intimacy, some of the families are going to be under great strains.'

Others will be helped by the compensation, which may total more than pounds 2m. The parents' lawyer, Ann Alexander, has impressed the health authority and Mrs Bottomley's advisers with the insistence and strength of her claims. A settlement which stops short of full liability admitted by the authority is unlikely to be acceptable.

One of the couples will use the money to buy a better house, get comfortable and get on with life. For one parent, the immediate outlook is as terrifying as thoughts of the attacks: she has cancer. 'They are, inevitably, a diverse group of people. Some will cope better than others,' the observer said. 'But they have held together well and supported one another well. I don't think the whole group will stay together, but the groups within the group, two or three families who have got to know one another particularly well, will carry on helping one another.'