Child-killing nurse Lucy Letby has etched her own black chapter in the history if our nation – as one of Britain’s worst female serial murderers.
But few of our most heartless female villains would dare boast of crimes of such cruelty and wanton evil as a nurse who betrayed the trust of defenceless babies to kill them.
The most prolific, twisted serial killer in UK history is believed also to be an angel of death, Dr Harold Shipman – an inquiry attributed a total of 218 victims.
Now Letby, 33, has been convicted of the cold-blooded, calculated murder of seven babies and joined the list of the most prolific female killers in British history.
That list includes names that strike terror including infamous Moors Murderer Myra Hindley, twisted Rose West of 25 Cromwell Street and the “Angel of Death” Beverley Allitt.
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Top of that infamous list is AMELIA DYER (1836–1896) – dubbed the Baby Farmer or the Ogress of Reading – six confirmed but up to 400 baby victims attributed to her, by strangulation or drowning
A nurse, Amelia would advertise to take unwanted children in from struggling mothers in return for a fee between £10 and £80 – equivalent to thousands of pounds today – and clothing for the child.
But instead of providing these infants with a new life, she pocketed the cash and killed the babies within days of receiving them, according to Thames Valley Police.
She would often strangle the infants before wrapping their bodies in paper bags and dumping them in rivers.
The 59-year-old was eventually executed on June 10, 1896, for the murder of a single child, even though it was believed she could have murdered as many as 400 babies in her lifetime.
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MARY ANN COTTON (1832-1873) – 21 victims. She is often given the title of Britain’s first serial killer for poisoning almost two dozen people, including her own mother, children and four husbands.
She was executed for poisoning her stepson and hanged at Durham Gaol.
Despite her sole conviction for murder, she is believed to have been a serial killer who killed many others including 11 of her 13 children and three of her four husbands for their insurance policies. Her preferred method of killing was poisoning with arsenic.
She was hanged in a botched execution by William Calcraft, who was known to be a “notoriously clumsy hangman”.
The trap door was not positioned high enough to break her neck, forcing him to press down on her shoulders. She died three minutes later in Durham Jail on March 24, 1873, in front of 50 observers.
ROSE WEST, (b. 1953) – 10 victims.
She was convicted in 1995 at Winchester Crown Court of 10 murders on the basis of joint enterprise with her evil husband Fred – including her 16-year-old daughter, her eight-year-old stepdaughter and her Fred’s pregnant lover but believed to have been involved in at least 11 deaths.
The twisted couple are known for their sickening acts in which they killed Rose’s stepdaughter Charmaine, eight, in 1971 and daughter Heather, 16, in 1987 and hid their bodies at their family home, dubbed the House of Horrors.
Also among their victims were Therese Siegenthaler, 21, abducted in 1974 while hitchhiking; 7 – Shirley Hubbard, 15, abducted from a bus stop in Droitwich in November 1974; Juanita Mott, 18, a former lodger at Cromwell Street and Shirley Robinson, 18, a former lodger who was eight months pregnant with Fred’s child.
Rose claimed she had also been victimised by Fred and had tried to stop one of the sexual assaults but in 1996 the Court of Appeal refused to consider her application for appeal.
MYRA HINDLEY, (1942-2002) – along with fellow Moors Murderer Ian Brady they killed five children in the 1960s and were both jailed for life in 1966.
Most of the victims’ bodies were discovered buried on Saddleworth Moor, in Greater Manchester, except that of 12-year-old Keith Bennett – dubbed the “Lost Boy” – whose location they never revealed.
The victims were Pauline Reade, 16, John Kilbride, 12, Keith Bennett, 12, Lesley Ann Downey, 10, and Edward Evans, 17. At least four of them were also sexually assaulted.
Sickeningly, Brady and Hindley recorded the terrible moment they took Lesley Ann’s life – and also took snapshots of themselves standing over the graves.
The bodies of John and Lesley Ann were discovered on the moors in October 1965 – after Edwards, who had been battered to death with an axe, was found wrapped in plastic in an upstairs room at Brady’s home in Hattersley.
The investigation was reopened in 1985 after Brady was reported as having confessed to the murders of Pauline and Keith. Pauline’s body was finally discovered on the Moors in 1987. Keith’s remains were never found.
BEVERLEY ALLITT, (b. 1968) – four child victims. In 1991 aged 22 the former nurse at Grantham and Kesteven Hospital went on a deadly killing spree at a children’s ward.
Overall she attacked thirteen children, four fatally, over a 59-day period before she was brought up on charges for her crimes.
When alone, Beverley would commit the murders either by insulin or potassium overdose or by injecting an air bubble into the bloodstream, which can cause lung collapse.
Despite being the only nurse on duty during every attack, she pleaded not guilty at trial but was convicted in May 1993, and given 13 life sentences, with a minimum of 30 years. Now 54, she is residing at Rampton Secure Hospital in Nottinghamshire.
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