The crop haired bully with a God com­plex

Daily Mail - - News - by Michael Sea­mark

ON the night shift at Airedale Gen­eral, Anne Grigg-Booth was re­garded as the undis­puted queen of the wards by hos­pi­tal staff. Many ju­nior nurses feared the foul­mouthed, crop-haired, busy, bossy woman, man­age­ment re­spected her tough­ness and few doc­tors would dream of ar­gu­ing with her.

She in­tim­i­dated some, was con­sid­ered a bully by oth­ers and there were com­plaints that she fre­quently swore at work.

But all that mat­tered to night nurse prac­ti­tioner, or mod­ern-day ‘ma­tron’ Grigg-Booth, was that ev­ery­thing ran smoothly in the small hours.

Grigg-Booth de­cided what drugs pa­tients needed and sim­ply took the pow­er­ful painkillers she wanted and il­le­gally ad­min­is­tered them her­self.

‘She had a bit of a God com­plex and thought she could do any­thing,’ said one nurse.

It was her pa­tients that ul­ti­mately paid the price. She was charged in 2004 with the murder of three el­derly women by in­ject­ing them with high doses of painkillers.

But ex­actly how many oth­ers died at her hands will re­main a mys­tery. Ac­cord­ing to po­lice, Grigg-Booth had been ‘be­hav­ing out of con­trol’ and there may have been as many as 20 vic­tims dur­ing her spree.

She died of an over­dose of anti-de­pres­sants in 2005, the year be­fore her trial, and with many pos­si­ble vic­tims cre­mated, find­ing sci­en­tific ev­i­dence to sup­port more murder charges was im­pos­si­ble. Grigg-Booth, the el­dest daugh­ter of a London po­lice­man, was a nurse for over 30 years.

Ear­lier in her ca­reer she was widely re­garded by col­leagues as the ul­ti­mate pro­fes­sional, highly ef­fi­cient and a stick­ler for the rules at work, if a ‘colour­ful ec­cen­tric’ in her spare time.

Stand­ing a tow­er­ing 6ft tall, her hair dyed in a va­ri­ety of colours, in her younger days she ar­rived at hos­pi­tal on a mo­tor­bike, wear­ing a sil­ver jump suit. She joined the Airedale hos­pi­tal in 1977 and wore a cape, jok­ingly telling peo­ple to call her ‘Florence’.

The ‘ma­tron’ even bought her pet par­rot onto the wards, her friends called her ‘Big Bird’ and she was known for be­ing a blunt speaker.

NURSINGwas her life – while on hol­i­day in North­ern Ire­land she was among the first to tend the in­jured in the Omagh bomb­ing in 1998.

At work she re­garded her­self as above the rules. She had an in­flated sense of her own abil­ity, and didn’t at­tend some train­ing ses­sions be­cause she didn’t think she needed to.

And at night on the quiet wards, the ma­tron – ‘ut­terly con­vinced of her own clin­i­cal prow­ess’ – be­lieved she car­ried ul­ti­mate author­ity. That in­cluded il­le­gally ad­min­is­ter­ing mor­phine and other pow­er­ful painkillers.

Po­lice were even­tu­ally alerted in Jan­uary 2003 af­ter a rou­tine au­dit at the hos­pi­tal re­vealed ‘dis­crep­an­cies’ in drug pre­scrip­tion. Af­ter de­tec­tives car­ried out in-depth in­ves­ti­ga­tions into 15 of Grigg-Booth’s pa­tients’ deaths, they charged her.

She de­nied de­lib­er­ately killing the vic­tims. In letters to health chiefs she wrote: ‘I never pre­scribed opi­ate or other drugs with­out dis­cus­sion with a doc­tor.

‘I took ver­bal or­ders in ex­treme cir­cum­stances ... if pa­tients were dy­ing all I wanted was to make sure they were pain free & set­tled & dy­ing with dig­nity & with fam­ily around.

‘I would not harm any­body and never end some­body’s life.’

But the deaths all fol­lowed a sim­i­lar pat­tern, said po­lice, and none of the pa­tients that died were ‘at death’s door’.

The mar­ried mother of one had sep­a­rated from her hus­band, Paul. She had been re­ceiv­ing treat­ment for de­pres­sion and was known to have a drink prob­lem – when she turned up drunk at her lo­cal po­lice sta­tion as part of her bail con­di­tions, she was charged with drink-driv­ing.

She lost her li­cence and was later caught steal­ing a bot­tle of whisky from a shop.

THENIn Au­gust 2005 neigh­bours called paramedics to her rented cot­tage in Nel­son, Lan­cashire, af­ter find­ing her on the floor muttering in­co­her­ently.

She was taken to hos­pi­tal but re­turned home and neigh­bours raised the alarm once again, the fol­low­ing night.

Po­lice found the body of Grig­gBooth, an an­i­mal lover who lived alone with her cat, par­rot and two love­birds.

Her forth­com­ing trial was aban­doned, along with any hope of dis­cov­er­ing what went on as she trawled hos­pi­tal bed­sides in the dead of night.

Anne Grigg-Booth: Feared by ju­nior nurses

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