Twin baby girl 'was killed with insulin injection'

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ONE TWIN died in convulsions, her nine-week-old body injected with insulin. The other was nursed to the brink of death. Nurse Beverley Allitt tended both the Phillips twins, and so impressed their parents that she was made godmother to the child whose brain she left irreparably damaged, Nottingham Crown Court was told yesterday.

Ms Allitt, 24, of First Avenue, Grantham, Lincolnshire, denies murdering four children on her ward, and attempting to murder nine other patients, an elderly woman and a friend's teenage son.

John Goldring, for the prosecution, said that although born prematurely, the Phillips twins had never been seriously ill. But on 1 April 1991, Becky Phillips was admitted to ward four at Grantham and Kesteven District Hospital, Lincolnshire.

She had a stomach upset. Two days later she was about to go home when Ms Allitt returned to work on the children's ward. Becky was dead by the early hours.

She had been fed by Ms Allitt before leaving. At home, she screamed in pain, her body convulsed and she stopped breathing. Doctors suspected a cot death.

As a precaution, they brought her sister, Katie, to hospital. 'There was nothing wrong with her,' Mr Goldring said. 'I'm afraid that when she finally left, she was permanently disabled.' Ms Allitt was left alone with Katie. Within minutes, she shouted: 'Cardiac arrest.' Katie's body was 'navy-blue'. She was taken to a specialised treatment room and recovered.

The next day, 6 April, Nurse Allitt was left on her own again with Katie. The child began crying, she was gasping, her body blue, her heart on the verge of stopping, Mr Goldring said. She was rushed to hospital in Nottingham where doctors kept her alive.

Mr Goldring said blood and liver tests on Becky showed someone had injected her with a lethal dose of insulin which acted on the baby after she arrived home.

Brain scans and X-rays were taken of Katie. She had been squeezed until she turned blue. Five of her ribs were broken and she had been shaken until her brain suffered damage, Mr Goldring said. Mrs Phillips thanked Ms Allitt for saving Katie's life, making her the child's godmother.

Another baby who died on ward four, 15-month old Claire Peck, was first thought to have been killed by asthma, the court was told. But Ms Allitt was twice left alone with Claire, whose body was found to contain at least twice the normal level of potassium.

Potassium sends the heartbeat 'haywire'. Doctors who tried to save Claire could not understand why they were unable to start her heart, Mr Goldring said.

The prosecution could not be sure how victims were attacked - by syringe, medicine laced with lethal ingredients, their oxygen supplies cut off, or their faces simply smothered. But, Mr Goldring said, considered over the duration of 59 days in April 1991, Ms Allitt was the only candidate, the thread linking an 'astonishing' series of heart attacks and respiratory failures that befell the young patients.

Bradley Gibson, aged five, did not require 'special' nursing. Left alone in Ms Allitt's care he suffered a heart attack and was transferred to Nottingham. Two days later Ms Allitt was left with two-year-old Henry Chan. The child began crying and his complexion turned blue as if deprived of oxygen. His back was arched. Doctors decided he was now in need of special nursing. Ms Allitt was given the task, Mr Goldring said. Henry collapsed again, and also had to be sent to Nottingham.

Michael Davidson, aged six, was recovering from an operation when he was left alone with Ms Allitt. He was given an injection and his heart stopped. 'There was something in the injection,' Mr Goldring said. Michael recovered.

Christopher Peasgood, aged nine months, had also been left alone with Nurse Allitt. A staff nurse heard an alarm, warning that Christopher's breathing was in difficulty. She found him 'navy-blue', Mr Goldring said. Christopher was in an oxygen tent, but his oxygen level was low and Ms Allitt 'was simply standing by the locker'.

Christopher recovered, until left alone once more with Ms Allitt. He collapsed again. Ms Allitt had said ward four was 'jinxed'.

Christopher King, five weeks old, needed a straightforward stomach operation. It was carried out without complications. He was left alone with Ms Allitt. Christopher went blue, then recovered. Again, she was at his bed when his condition deteriorated, mystifying doctors, who thought he would die. But at Nottingham, doctors could not understand why he had been unwell and he recovered.

Patrick Elstone was seven weeks old. His condition seemed happy and his parents were preparing to take him home. Attended by Ms Allitt, Patrick was in Nottingham within a few hours, Mr Goldring said. The fits he suffered caused him 'some permanent damage'.

When not working on ward four, Ms Allitt nursed at an old people's home near Grantham. On 26 April she was seen injecting Dorothy Lowe, 73, a diabetic resident, Mr Goldring said. Within the hour, Ms Lowe was unconscious. Tests suggested she had received an overdose of insulin.

Jonathan Jobson, 15-year-old son of a friend with whom Ms Allitt stayed while on bail, suffered a similar attack on 4 August. Ms Allitt had earlier prepared him a fruit drink which Jonathan commented contained 'chalky bits'. Jonathan's grandmother was a diabetic and kept tablets that stimulated the body's production of insulin.

Ms Allitt pleads not guilty to the attempted murders of Dorothy Lowe and Jonathan Jobson.

The trial continues today.

(Photograph omitted)