Did Sister Jessie’s story influence carer who used insulin to kill?
HER story may have been the inspiration for Colin Norris.
Scots nurse, sister Jessie McTavish was alleged to have killed an elderly patient at Glasgow’s Ruchill hospital with insulin, copying a murder played out in the now vintage US detective show Ironside.
The nurse was jailed for life in 1974 only for her conviction to be overturned four months later. Her story, however, may still have influenced fellow Scot Colin Norris, who grew up no more than a mile from Ruchill.
Sister McTavish was to marry, divorce and remarry and continue her career in nursing. She was accused of having discussed an Ironside episode in which a patient was injected with insulin, the potentially deadly hormone used to treat diabetes but which leaves no trace. This convinced some authorities she murdered 80-year-old Ruchill patient Elizabeth Lyon in the summer of 1973.
Her case, one of the most notorious of the 1970s, was dis- cussed in lectures at Dundee University when Norris studied nursing there.
Ms McTavish was not the only nurse accused of using insulin to kill. Beverley Allitt was jailed for life in 1993 for killing at least four children in her care and trying to kill sev- eral more. The Lincolnshire nurse injected children with the hormone. Ms Allitt, who is now in Rampton, the high-security hospital, has been diagnosed with Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome, a condition which led her to hurt patients in her care to gain attention.