Expatica news

Killer nurse convicted on appeal and gets life

18 June 2004

AMSTERDAM — Former nurse Lucy de Berk was sentenced to life in jail and TBS psychiatric detention with compulsory treatment after being convicted on appeal in The Hague on Friday of seven murders and three attempted murders.

The 42-year-old was convicted of killing patients under her care at various hospitals in The Hague where she worked between 1997 and 2001. Among the victims were elderly people and babies.

The court imposed TBS detention because a life sentence did not give sufficient guarantees. Without TBS it would have been possible for De Berk — if she was granted a pardon — to be released untreated into society.

De Berk was found guilty of administering lethal doses of medicine.

The appeals court in The Hague confirmed the life sentence demanded by the prosecution in the appeal and handed down on De Berk in the trial ruling in March 2003.

But Friday’s appeals court ruling went further than the trial court’s verdict, in which De Berk was only convicted of four murders and three attempted murders.

In total, she was suspected of 13 murders and five attempted murders and both De Berk and the prosecution had appealed the trial court’s ruling.

After the appeals court had spoken in depth on Friday about De Berk’s guilt in the death of a baby identified as Amber, she stood up, burst into tears and said she wished to leave the court.

“I don’t need to hear this, I didn’t do it,” she said.

Speaking in court earlier this month, an emotional De Berk told relatives of her alleged murder victims that she was innocent of their deaths. She particularly addressed her words to the parents of the children she was accused of killing.

“The pain of the next of kin is many times greater than the pain I feel because I can no longer be a nurse. I hope that they believe me when I say that I did not cause that pain,” De Berk said.

There was no direct witness who saw De Berk carry out the murders. A witness who claimed that she confessed to the murders later withdrew the testimony.

The prosecution based its evidence on a diary note in which De Berk said she had given in to her “compulsion” and statistics indicating that it was extremely unlikely it was a coincidence that the victims died while De Berk was on duty.

But her lawyer said it was shocking that the prosecution admitted the case against De Berk was a good opportunity to investigate the boundaries of what sorts of evidence could be used in court.

The lawyer was referring to so-called “link evidence” in which evidence of the death of one patient could be used as evidence for another death.

But the prosecution hoped to prove that De Berk had a standard method of operation which she applied to all her victims. The court had to decide if it would accept the evidence.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news