Colin Norris

Colin Norris

Colin Norris
Also known as: Angel of Death
Number of victims: 4
Country: England
Date apprehended: 2002

Colin Campbell Norris was a Scottish nurse and convicted serial killer from the Milton area in Glasgow[1][2] who murdered four elderly patients in a hospital in Leeds, England, in 2002. He was sentenced in 2008 to serve a minimum of 30 years in prison.


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Norris worked at Leeds General Infirmary and St James’s Hospital. Suspicions were raised when Norris predicted the death of one patient, Ethel Halls, saying she would die at 5:15 a.m. She did. He stated at the time: “it is always in the morning when things go wrong”.[3] When questioned by police about this and three other patients who had died while he was on duty, he said “he seemed to have been unlucky over the last 12 months”.[3] The four patients were 79, 80, 86 and 88 years old.[4] The police investigated 72 cases in total.[4]


The trial took 19 weeks and the jury deliberated for 4 days. Norris was convicted on 3 March 2008 of the murder of four women, and the attempted murder of a fifth aged 90.[5] He was sentenced to life imprisonment, and ordered to serve a minimum term of 30 years in prison the following day.[6] Judge Mr Justice Griffith rejected any possibility that Norris was practising euthanasia because none of the victims was terminally ill.[4] He told Norris when sentencing:

“You are, I have absolutely no doubt, a thoroughly evil and dangerous man. You are an arrogant and manipulative man with a real dislike of elderly patients. The most telling evidence was that observation of one of your patients, Bridget Tarpey, who said ‘he did not like us old women’.”[4]

Referred to in the British press as the “Angel of Death”, Norris killed his victims by injecting them with high levels of insulin.[3] Though his victims were women, Norris is gay.[1]

Jessie McTavish, a nurse convicted and then cleared in 1974 for the murder of an 80-year-old patient with insulin, has been identified as a possible inspiration for Norris. He once attended a lecture on her case while studying at nursing college.[1]

Similar cases

In the aftermath of Norris’s conviction, the British Media drew comparisons with Doctor Harold Shipman, Britain’s most prolific serial killer who killed more than 250 patients by lethal injections. Det Ch Supt Chris Gregg who worked on the Shipman case and led the Norris investigation was convinced that Colin Norris would have gone on to kill considerably more people if he was not stopped in his tracks.[7].

In 2006 Benjamin Geen, a nurse at a hospital in Banbury, Oxfordshire, was given 17 life sentences for murdering two of his patients and attacking 15 others. He used a variety of injections which often included insulin.[8]

An inquiry is currently being held into the case of nurse Anne Grigg-Booth who was found dead in 2005. She was due to stand trial a few months later for the murder of three elderly female patients at Airedale Hospital, Keighley.[8]


External links

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