The case against nurse Lucia de B, jailed in 2004 for life for murdering seven patients and attempting to murder three others, should be reopened, says a legal advisory committee which looks into possible miscarriages of justice.
The alleged murders and attempted murders took place at three hospitals between 1997 and 2001and came to light after police began investigating the death of a baby girl named Amber.
De B’s eventual conviction was based on two deaths, including that of baby Amber, which toxicology reports said could have been caused by digoxin poisoning.
In particular the committee says the death of baby Amber should be referred back to the high court, pointing out that experts were divided on whether or not the baby was actually poisoned.
All the other patients were either very old or very sick and died as a result of ‘medically unexplained’ causes. In these cases, De B was on duty ‘noticeably often’ when someone died, the prosecution department said during the court case. The statistical probability of her being present at so many deaths was central to the prosecution’s case.
The committee says the police investigation may well have focused too much on De B and not looked into other possible explanations for the deaths. In addition, it says there should be a further investigation into the deaths and resuscitation records at the children’s hospital before De B. worked there.
De B has always protested her innocence and has won support from a number of scientists and criminal investigators.
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