Triple murder charge nurse 'may have killed more'

Last updated at 14:50 30 August 2005

A senior nurse who was charged with murdering three of her patients may have killed many more, police said today.

Anne Grigg-Booth, 52, was due to go on trial next year but was found dead at her home in Nelson, Lancashire, on Monday.

She was accused of murdering three women at Airedale General Hospital, near Keighley, West Yorkshire, where she had worked for 25 years.

The nurse was also accused of attempting to murder a fourth patient and 13 counts of unlawfully administering poison to 12 other patients.

The charges related to her injecting patients will high doses of painkilling drugs such as morphine and diamorphine while she working on the night shift.

She was charged in September 2004 and was due to go on trial in April next year.

Today, Detective Superintendent Phil Sedgewick, who led the investigation for West Yorkshire Police, said no will ever know how many patients Grigg-Booth killed.

He said a number of cases were investigated at the hospital where Grigg-Booth was a Night Nurse Practitioner.

This is was one of the most senior nursing positions at the hospital and meant she was often in charge at night.

The detective said that the difficulty of proving exactly how many of her very ill and elderly patients died, especially after they had been cremated, meant the Crown Prosecution Service decided to proceed with just three murder charges.

He said: "We looked at a lot of deaths at the hospital and picked up a number of suspicious cases.

"We eventually concentrated on between 15 and 20 cases and brought experts in to look at these.

"It was eventually decided to go ahead with three murder charges, one attempted murder and the rest as administering poisons charges."

Asked whether Grigg-Booth could have killed more than the three people whose deaths she was charged with, Mr Sedgewick, said: "She could have. We just don't know. Now we'll never know for sure."

Denied responsibility

He said Grigg-Booth, who was divorced and had one son, always denied being responsible for any deaths and gave no clue about her motives.

It is understood she never claimed so called "mercy killing" as a motive.

Ms Grigg-Booth was charged with the murder of June Driver on July 14 2000, Eva Blackburn on November 13 2001, and Annie Midgley on July 22 2002.

Her alleged victims were aged 96, 75 and 67.

She was also accused of trying to kill 42-year-old Michael Parker in June 2002, and administering morphine, pethidine and diamorphine to 12 patients between June 2000 and July 2002.

Mr Sedgewick said he believed many of the relatives of Grigg-Booth's victims will feel unhappy that she will now not face a criminal court.

He said: "I can't speak for them but I think many will feel it would have better if she had faced a public court.

"It is a very unsatisfactory ending."

Grigg-Booth was originally from London and moved from West Yorkshire to Lancashire after she was charged when bail conditions were imposed barring her from Keighley.

A spokeswoman for West Yorkshire Police said her body was discovered early on Monday. Her death is not being treated as suspicious.

It is understood the nurse had been drinking heavily and failing to look after herself prior to her death.

A post mortem examination is due to be carried out later today.

The coroner, Airedale General Hospital and the CPS have been informed of her death.

A spokeswoman for Airedale General Hospital said staff were sorry to learn of her death and offered their condolences to her family.

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