Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Beverley Allitt: Suffer the Children

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The two baby girls were just two months old. Katie and Becky Phillips had been born prematurely and had remained in the hospital for a while before being sent home. There they seemed to thrive, but then suffered from gastro-enteritis. Becky came into Ward Four on April 1, 1991, and Allitt took over her care. Two days later, the nurse went running for help when Becky appeared to be hypoglycemic. She was cold to the touch, Allitt claimed, but the nurse who responded could find nothing wrong. Little Becky went home with her mother.

During the night, she went into convulsions and cried out in apparent pain. Her parents tried to do what they could, and even summoned a doctor, but he thought she simply had colic. To keep watch over her, the parents kept her in their bed that night, where she quietly died.

Taken again to the hospital, Becky's small body was tested, yet the pathologists could find no clear cause of death.

Grantham Hospital entrance
Grantham Hospital entrance

To take an extra precaution with Katie, the remaining twin, the doctor had her admitted to Grantham, and as fate would have it, the nurse on duty was Beverley Allitt. It wasn't long before she was running with the baby in her arms, shouting out, "Cardiac arrest!" Indeed, Katie had stopped breathing and was quickly succumbing to the lack of oxygen.

She was saved, but the same thing happened two days later. This time, her lungs collapsed and it proved difficult to encourage her to breathe again. Once they did, they transferred her to Nottingham, where it was found that five of her ribs were broken. They felt sure that she had suffered serious brain damage from her oxygen deprivation.


Ironically, Katie's mother, Sue Phillips, felt so grateful to Allitt for saving her baby's life that she asked her to be Katie's godmother. Allitt accepted the honor. She acted as if she'd been a hero when in fact thanks to Allitt, this child now had cerebral palsy, paralysis, and damage to both her sight and hearing. Little did the Phillipses know.

Katie's mother Sue Phillips
Katie's mother Sue

Allitt continued attacking the children at the hospital. Four more who had been more or less healthy succumbed to the same kinds of disorders. Allitt was always involved in the child's care, yet no one at Grantham was asking why so many children in such a short span of time under the care of the same nurse should be suffering from the same life-threatening conditions. However, people at Nottingham's hospital were beginning to suspect that something was amiss.

It was the death of a 15-month-old girl that finally brought the spree to an end.

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