In Sir Trevor McDonald’s first year reading News at Ten, he covered the extraordinary case of one of Britain’s worst serial killers: a young, female nurse.
In 1991, 22-year-old nurse Beverly Allitt murdered four children in her care, and attacked a further nine, at Grantham Hospital in Lincolnshire.
Now, 25 years since he reported on her conviction, Trevor is able to shed new light on a case that has fascinated him ever since.
Trevor is given access to the original police interviews with Beverly Allitt, and tracks down several of her surviving victims, some of whom are speaking for the first time about their traumatic experiences, and the impact it has had on their lives.
Bradley Gibson was 5 years old when Allitt tried to kill him, in the children’s ward of Grantham Hospital.
Now 32, Bradley tells Trevor how his heart stopped beating for thirty-two minutes, long after many doctors would have given him up as dead.
“They had to use adult doses of shock for me because I was not coming round at all.”
When Trevor plays Bradley the police tapes of Allitt’s interview, he says, “She’s trying to get away with it any way she can. To me that screams out almost psychotic.”
Kayley Asher was just fifteen months old when Beverly Allitt attacked her. She was already suffering from a serious disability affecting her development.
Her adoptive mother Sharon tells Trevor that “Kayley was injected with air underneath her armpits that made her lungs collapse”.
She says that Beverly Allitt is still a major presence in their lives: “Kayley has…flashbacks of what happened. She sort of looks under her bed, in drawers looking for Nurse Allitt although (she’s) told time and time again she’s not there, she still looks the whole time.”
When Trevor asks Kayley what it is that frightens her now, Kayley replies, “in case she comes back for me.”
Trevor also meets the detective that caught Beverly Allitt, and hears the extraordinary story of an investigation against the odds.
Former Detective Superintendent Stuart Clifton tells Trevor how he pushed on with his enquiry, despite pressure to give up: “One very senior officer said to me, ‘you’re chasing rainbows’. Detectives develop a sixth sense, I think, and particularly experienced detectives, and there was something that just rankled with me that didn’t seem quite true.”
Trevor also sits down with the officers who interviewed Beverly Allitt, and plays them the interview tapes. They talk him through this extraordinary archive material, in which a soft-spoken 22-year-old woman flatly denies allegations of murder, smiling and joking with the officers.
Trevor also investigates Beverly Allitt’s detention and punishment.
He uncovers a document that suggests Beverly Allitt was faking the original symptoms that had her transferred from jail to hospital while on remand, and he hears from experts who suggest she should be in prison, rather than Rampton Secure Hospital.
Trevor finds Beverly Allitt’s surviving victims troubled by her apparent lack of confession, but in the course of making this film he discovers a document which shows that she has in fact confessed to all of the crimes of which she was convicted.
Victim Michael Davidson says, “I didn’t know about that. It makes me feel better, but it was more in her self interest. It would mean more if she’d pleaded guilty at trial”.
Kayley Asher’s father agrees: “Too little, too late”.
Wednesday 24th October 2018 at 9pm (BST) on ITV.