In the Media

Psychopath nurse killed two and took 15 to the brink so he could try to save them

PUBLISHED April 19, 2006

Murder convictions mean a life behind bars for man who craved a place at the centre of the action. 

A NURSE who murdered two patients and took fifteen others to the brink of death to revel in the thrill of trying to revive them was told yesterday that he faced life behind bars. 
Benjamin Geen injected his victims, often frail pensioners, with morphine, other anaesthetic drugs and muscle relaxants to make them suffer respiratory failure and require emergency resuscitation.

The nurse, described as a narcissistic and psychopathic killer, was obsessed with being at the centre of life-and-death dramas at Horton General Hospital, in Banbury, Oxfordshire.

Geen, 25, showed no emotion as the jury unanimously convicted him of two counts of murder and fifteen counts of causing grievous bodily harm to patients. The two whom he killed were Anthony Bateman, 66, and David Onley, 75.

As the jury of six men and six women returned its verdicts at Oxford Crown Court after deliberating for 27 hours, Geen?s mother, Erica, gasped before collapsing in tears. His father, Michael, and fianc?e, Megan Crabbe, also a nurse, stared straight ahead.

Michael Geen, an employee of News International, publisher of The Times, later issued a statement saying: ?We are very upset and stand by our son.?

The case has raised concerns about how a staff nurse went undetected as he injected drugs directly or into the patients? drip or cannula over a nine-week period. He also tampered with oxygen supplies and injected one victim with glucose during his attacks between December 2003 and February 2004. So powerful was one sedative that torturers have used it to cause ?dry drowning?, where victims are left paralysed but conscious and fighting for breath.

Geen, from Banbury, was eventually caught after an internal investigation by Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust. Detectives believe that he would have killed many more had he not been caught.

The nurse had a perverse need to be at the centre of the action on the accident and emergency ward. Like an arsonist who sparks a blaze and is then transfixed as the firefighters arrive, Geen would make his patients collapse and then join the adrenalin-charged frenzy as doctors and nurses battled to save them.

His obsession with the world of medicine began when he was a teenager and joined the Territorial Army?s medical corps in which he became lieutenant. Geen, a keen rugby player, often boasted to friends of the skills he wielded on a make-believe battlefield.

When he joined nursing college it emerged that his actual ability far from matched his claims. He failed his exams the first time and had to join the healthcare trust as a care assistant in November 2002.

During that time he was repeatedly scolded by doctors for being gung-ho, arrogant, ignoring orders and wearing the epaulettes of a fully trained nurse. In April 2003 he qualified as a nurse and took on greater responsibilities, and in July he passed exams to administer drugs intravenously.

Deriving a sense of self-importance from his patients? vulnerability and their reliance on his medical knowledge, he went on to exploit his position of power. Six months after being allowed to perform injections he started his attacks, killing Mr Bateman and Mr Onley. In total Geen targeted 17 patients. His eldest victim was 93 but as he grew in confidence he also caused the collapse of a 22-year-old man.

Gossip was rife about why the ward had such a high number of unexplained respiratory arrests among patients who moments earlier had shown little or no signs of breathing problems. An internal investigation showed that Geen was the common link: he was always on duty at the time of the collapse and was invariably the one to raise the alarm.

He even boasted how there was always a need for a resuscitation when he was working. Geen later told police that he was ?jinxed?. Staff told how he appeared bright-eyed and elated when he joined the crash teams in the resuscitation room. Doctors found it frustrating to deal with a young nurse who thought that he knew it all.

Geen was arrested on February 9, 2004, at work. An old syringe was found in a pocket which he had emptied upon seeing police. Tests showed that it had contained the muscle relaxant that causes dry drowning.

Detectives contacted those who investigated Harold Shipman, the serial killer doctor, and the child murderer Beverley Allitt, also a nurse, to seek advice on how to handle the vast inquiry and its complex medical issues. Hospital staff isolated 27 cases, of which 9 were discounted, leaving 18 for further investigation. Geen was acquitted of one charge of causing grievous bodily harm.

Richard Taylor, a consultant psychiatrist specialising in the treatment of mentally ill offenders, told The Times that Geen?s behaviour suggested that he was a psychopath with a narcissistic personality trait.

?They usually have low self-esteem and anything that bolsters their sense of self-importance is a bonus. It is very rare to find these people in the healthcare profession,? he said. When the home Geen shared with Ms Crabbe was searched, it emerged that he had been hoarding drugs and medical equipment to build up his TA first-aid field kit.

Detective Superintendent Andy Taylor, of Thames Valley Police, said that Geen would have murdered more had he not been stopped. ?We may never know what motivated him but it is clear that he wanted to be at the centre of attention. Today he has found that attention.? The hospital trust said that it followed procedures in detecting Geen?s behaviour. Mr Justice Crane adjourned sentencing until psychiatric reports are prepared.