Nurse Who Killed Four Patients Jailed For Life

A staff nurse who murdered four elderly patients with lethal injections of insulin was today jailed for life and told he would serve a minimum of 30 years.

“You are, I have absolutely no doubt, a thoroughly evil and dangerous man,” the trial judge, Justice Griffith Williams, told Colin Norris.

The judge told the 32-year-old from Glasgow, who showed no emotion as he was led from the dock, that the motive for the killings remained a mystery.

“You are an arrogant and manipulative man with a real dislike of elderly patients,” he said.

“The most telling evidence was that observation of one of your female patients, Bridget Tarpey, who said: ‘He didn’t like us old women’.”

The judge said Norris disliked elderly people because they needed too much care. He said he had formed the belief that Norris was “essentially lazy”.

“Only you know why that dislike was so much that you decided to kill. Despite months of evidence, I am no wiser as to your motive.”

Norris, who was convicted yesterday, was given four life sentences with a minimum term of 30 years for each of the murders, and a 20 year sentence, to run concurrently, for a separate offence of attempted murder.

Colleagues at Leeds General Infirmary became suspicious after Norris correctly predicted what time 86-year-old Ethel Hall would die in November 2002, telling a colleague she would die at 5.10am on his shift.

The court heard he also told a colleague that whenever he worked nights someone would die, and it was just his luck that he would have to do the paperwork. Hall, who was recovering well after a hip operation, was found in a coma later on the same shift.

Dr Emma Ward ordered blood tests on Hall. When the sample showed she had 12 times the normal level of insulin, an investigation was launched which also looked at the deaths of Doris Ludlam, 80, and Bridget Bourke, 88, who fell into comas on the same ward that Hall had been in and later died in June and July 2002.

The death of 79-year-old Irene Crookes at St James’s Hospital, also in Leeds, while Norris was working there in October 2002 was also investigated. All three women had been in hospital for hip operations.

He also tried to murder Vera Wilby, 90, but she survived the coma which followed the unnecessary insulin injection.

The judge said he was sure Norris was not trying to carry out mercy killings.

“Although Mrs Ludlam was at risk of imminent death from other symptoms, not one of your five patients, all of whom were non-diabetic, was terminally ill,” he told Norris.

“There cannot be any suggestion you were motivated to hasten their ends to spare them suffering; indeed, there was no evidence that any of them was suffering apart from the pains that the elderly sometimes have.

“I suspect you enjoyed the power that ending a life gave you, choosing the elderly because they were defenceless. Then, emboldened by the fact that nobody suspected what was happening, it is clear you embarked on what in truth was a campaign of killing – a campaign which would, no doubt, have continued had not experienced medical staff been alerted to what was happening.”

Detective Chief Superintendent Chris Gregg of West Yorkshire police said only Norris knew why he had killed. “I am convinced he would have gone on to kill more patients had he not been stopped in his tracks,” he said.