Pleasant and dedicated nurse … with powerful dislike for elderly
Murderer joked ‘whenever I did nights someone always died’
A DEDICATED nurse and a pleasant young man, whose only vice was the occasional cigarette – the description of Colin Norris is hardly the portrait of a serial killer.
Prosecutors claimed Norris had a general dislike of the elderly, but just what drove the Glaswegian to kill four of his patients and attempt to kill another is still a mystery.
While working the night shift at two hospitals Norris targeted elderly women, injecting them with fatal doses of insulin causing them to slip into a coma. None of his victims was diabetic. Norris even boasted to colleagues: “Whenever I did nights, someone always died.”
Yet by all accounts, Norris was raised in a caring family in Partick, Glasgow.
Norris’s mother, June, and his stepfather, Raymond Mor- rison, still live in a neat terrace in the Milton area of the city.
His grandmother lives in the neighbouring street. Although the family did not want to comment, a neighbour said: “He is a personable, decent young man, close to his granny. He used to be a regular visitor.”
There seem few clues to Norris’s murderous career in early life. He was born in 1976 and raised in Partick. At school, he achieved five Ogrades, studying travel before landing his first job working in a travel agency.
However, friends said he always had an interest in nursing, and it was no surprise when he switched careers to train in the profession in Dundee.
While there, Norris worked on ward 11 at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee where he learned about the diabetic management of patients. He also went to ward 7 of Royal Victoria Hospital in Dundee where he cared for elderly patients.
After Norris was charged, West Yorkshire detectives launched an inquiry in Scotland. They established he would have had access to patients during his Dundee training, although there they uncovered no evidence to suggest he harmed the patients.
Norris also did placements in nursing homes, missing part of it through “unauthorised absences”, telling his tutor he hated this part of his course.
Prosecutors suggested it was while working in these institutions that his general dislike of the elderly may have begun.
It was also shortly before he graduated, in January 2001, that Norris’s personal tutor at Dundee gave a specific talk to her students on the subject of abuse of elderly patients, including particular reference to a Glasgow nurse in the 1970s who was convicted of killing elderly patients by injecting them with insulin.
By October 2001, Norris was working on ward 36 at the Leeds General Infirmary.
Colleagues said there was nothing to distinguish him –his only vice was popping out onto the fire escape for a cigarette during night shifts.
His first victim was 90-yearold Vera Wilby. She had been admitted with a broken left hip after a fall in Rawdon, Leeds. Norris first administered a dose of the powerful painkiller morphine to Mrs Wilby to make her drowsy.
He then administered more drugs and 90 minutes after he finished his shift at the hospital, she was found semi-conscious with a sudden hypoglycaemic attack. Mrs Wilby survived.
Over the next few days, Norris murdered two more patients in ward 36 at the Leeds General Infirmary.
Bridget Bourke, 88, Doris Ludlam, 80, were both found in the morning with hypoglaecaemic attacks, despite not being diabetic. Norris had given them drugs. They both later died.
By October 2002, Norris was working at St James’s Hospital in Leeds. He treated Irene Crookes, 79, who had broken her hip in a fall.
Despite her condition improving, Norris reported finding her “totally unresponsive” shortly before 6am. She, too, had suffered a hypoglaecaemic attack but was not diabetic. She died shortly afterwards.
The following month, Ethel Hall, 86, was admitted to ward 36 at Leeds General Infirmary. She had a fracture to her hip and underwent surgery to repair it.
She appeared to be recovering, but in the early hours of November 20 2002, staff found her choking. Her blood sugar levels were found to be low and blood tests show abnormally high levels of insulin.
Earlier in the evening Norris predicted this change in condition, without any medical indications, in a conversation with colleagues, saying: “Whenever I did nights someone always died. It was always in the morning when things go wrong - about 5.15am.”
After he was finally arrested, police tried to jog Norris’s memory of the individual patients. He told them he could recall Vera Wilby’s distinctive hairstyle but did not recall the others, even when shown photographs.
He told officers “he seemed to have been unlucky over the last 12 months”.
When charged he said: “I have never done any of it.”