'Killing for thrills' nurse given 17 life terms

A thrill-seeking nurse who killed two patients and seriously harmed 15 more by injecting them with lethal drugs was sentenced to life behind bars yesterday.

Benjamin Geen, 25, did not flinch as he was given 17 life sentences at Oxford Crown Court and told he would spend at least 30 years behind bars for his “terrible betrayal” of the medical profession and his patients.

Fifteen patients were sent to the brink of death and struggled back to life after they were admitted, between December 2003 and February 2004, to the accident and emergency department of the Horton General Hospital in Banbury, Oxfordshire, where Geen worked as a staff nurse.

Two did not survive. David Onley, 75, from Deddington, Oxfordshire, died on January 21, 2004 and Anthony Bateman, 65, from Banbury, died on January 6, 2004.

But, speaking through his solicitor, Geen insisted he was innocent and would appeal against his conviction.

He called for a public inquiry into what went wrong at the hospital.

His parents, Mick and Erica, hit out at the way the trial was handled and said they would campaign for their son’s release.

“We know that our son neither committed nor is capable of committing these terrible crimes,” they said.

During the nine-week trial, the jury heard Geen “came alive” and looked “elated” as his patients went into respiratory arrest.

Geen, formerly of Banbury, 0even boasted about the regular action during his shifts and told one doctor: “There is always a resuscitation when I’m on duty.”

One nurse told the court Geen said “Oh no, here we go again“ as murder victim Mr Bateman turned blue and began to fight for breath.

Geen mostly used anaesthetic drugs that were commonly used in the hospital and readily available in emergencies but that were “deadly in the wrong hands”.

Eventually, after an alcoholic was admitted with stomach pains and ended up in intensive care, doctors decided something was seriously wrong and launched the investigation that led them to Geen.

He was arrested as he arrived for work the next day – with a full syringe of vecuronium, a muscle relaxant, in his pocket.

Yesterday, Mr Justice Crane told Geen he had “no doubt” Geen would have continued his dangerous game.

He said: “It seems that you relished the excitement of that feeling of taking control but you must have known quite well that you were playing with their lives.

“This was a terrible betrayal. You betrayed your nursing and medical colleagues and the vital profession of which you had been a member. Most of all, you betrayed the trust of the patients. They were in your care and you intentionally caused them huge damage.”

The judge accepted that Geen had not intended to kill, but said that even for those who survived his actions he had a “devastating effect, not only physically, but on learning that one of those trusted to treat them had, in fact, surreptitiously harmed them. In several cases, their lives had never been the same again.”

While Geen’s psychiatric reports revealed nothing “illuminating“, the judge said “these offences reveal a highly abnormal attitude, particularly to human life”.

The judge also called for the Horton Hospital to make public recommendations about changes to procedures made in the wake of Geen’s case.

Speaking through Thames Valley Police spokeswoman Kate Smith, Geen’s victims and their families said: “We are pleased with the sentence but no sentence would be long enough for what Benjamin Geen has done.”