Scottish nurse loses appeal in murders of four patients in England

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

St James's Hospital in Leeds, UK

A man from Scotland who killed four elderly women and attempted to murder a fifth while working as a nurse in England has lost his appeal. Colin Norris, 33, from Glasgow, gave his victims overdoses of insulin which sent them into comas.

Norris, who was struck off the nursing register following his convictions, was convicted in March last year of murdering Doris Ludlam, 80, Bridget Bourke, 88, Irene Crookes, 79, and Ethel Hall, 86, as well as the attempted murder of 90-year-old Vera Wilby. Only Wilby ever awoke from her coma. He was convicted by a majority verdict at Newcastle Crown Court and sentenced to thirty years to life in prison.

William Clegg QC, defending, told the Court of Appeal in London that the deaths at the General Infirmary and St James's Hospital in Leeds could have been caused by "severe spontaneous hypoglycaemia" causing "naturally raised insulin levels" in the patients. He said this possibility had never been properly investigated.

Clegg also challenged Mr Justice Griffith Williams' summing up to the jury in the original trial. However, having also heard arguments from the prosecution, given by Robert Smith QC, the panel of judges did not agree. Lord Justice Aikens stated that the judges directions "cannot validly be criticised" and went on: "We reject both grounds of appeal. The case against the appellant was very strong indeed. We are quite satisfied that the convictions... on all five counts were safe. The appeal is dismissed."