New evidence emerges in Leeds hospital “Angel of Death” case

Colin Norris, convicted of murdering four elderly female patients at Leeds General Infirmary

Colin Norris, convicted of murdering four elderly female patients at Leeds General Infirmary

By Ed Watson

New evidence could “change the landscape” of the case against a nurse convicted of murdering elderly patients in Leeds in 2008.

Colin Norris, 37 – dubbed ‘The Angel of Death’ – was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum tariff of 30 years after being found guilty of the murder of four elderly women and the attempted murder of Vera Wilby from Rawdon.

All the women had hypoglycaemic episodes, with their blood sugar dropping to dangerously low levels, while at Leeds General Infirmary.

The prosecution argued that spontaneously-occurring hypoglycaemia was so rare that a cluster of five cases must mean foul play.

But findings from a recent independent study have now given weight to the ongoing fight to prove Mr Norris’ innocence.

Justice campaigner Louise Shorter, 44 – who helped produce a BBC documentary about the case in 2011 – believes the new evidence will help Norris.

She said: “The new evidence is extremely strong. It could change the landscape of the trial against Colin.

“It shows that the disease is not uncommon with older people in hospital – up to 10 per cent can get it.”

Mr Norris was not directly linked to the elderly patients – his only link was being on shift when they all died.

But scientific evidence at the time suggested the condition was so rare with non-diabetics that they must have been injected with insulin.

Four women, Bridget Bourke, Irene Crooks, Ethel Hall and Doris Ludlam, died. Mrs Wilby recovered from the hypoglycaemic episode, and died later from unconnected causes.

Clockwise from top left: Bridget Bourke, Irene Crooks, Ethel Hall and Doris Ludlam

Clockwise from top left: Bridget Bourke, Irene Crooks, Ethel Hall and Doris Ludlam

The Court of Appeal rejected an attempt to overturn Norris’ conviction in 2009.

The new research – from Rotherham General Hospital and the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire postgraduate medical school – may be the catalyst for setting a new Court of Appeal date for Mr Norris.

Ms Shorter said: “The new research shows that long held beliefs about hypoglycaemia are not true.

“We just hope the Criminal Cases Review Commission – who can bring this case back to the Court of Appeal – can make a decision as soon as possible.”

An LGI spokesperson said they couldn’t comment on the issue due to legal reasons.

A West Yorkshire Police spokesman said: “Norris was arrested, prosecuted and on the basis of the evidence presented in court he was convicted and sentenced.

“His conviction was upheld at the Court of Appeal in 2009.”

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