Beverley Allitt, or the 'Angel of Death' as she became known, has become one of Britain’s most notorious female serial killers. This is made more shocking by the fact that whilst she went on a killing spree that claimed four young lives and attempted the murder of nine other victims, she befriended the parents of her victims with her caring and solicitous manner.
Allitt exhibited some worrying tendencies early on, whilst growing up as one of four children, including the wearing of dressings and casts over wounds that she would use to draw attention to herself, without actually allowing these injuries to be examined. Becoming overweight as an adolescent, she became increasingly attention-seeking, often showing aggression towards others. She spent considerable time in hospitals seeking medical attention for a string of physical ailments, which culminated in the removal of her perfectly healthy appendix. This was slow to heal, as she insisted on interfering with the surgical scar. She was also known to self-harm, and had to resort to 'doctor-hopping', as medical practitioners became familiar with her attention-seeking behaviours, she would move to the next doctor.
She went on to train as a nurse and was suspected of odd behaviour, such as smearing faeces on walls in a nursing home where she trained. Her absentee level was also exceptionally high, the result of a string of illnesses. Her boyfriend at that time said later that she was aggressive, manipulative and deceptive, claiming false pregnancy as well as rape, before the end of the relationship.
Despite her history of poor attendance and successive failure of her nursing examinations, she was taken on a temporary six-month contract at the chronically understaffed Grantham and Kesteven Hospital in Lincolnshire in 1991, where she began work in Children’s Ward 4. When she started, there were only two trained nurses on the dayshift and one for nights, which might explain how her violent attention-seeking behaviour went undetected for as long as it did.