Healthcare nurse Victorino Chua, jailed for life with a minimum of 35 years in May 2015 for the murder of two patients at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport, has had his appeal bid against his conviction and sentence rejected by judges at London’s Court of Appeal.
Convicted at Manchester Crown Court, this 50-year-old father of two injected in fatal doses of insulin into saline bags at the hospital. Colourless, his actions went undetected and other nurses continued to use the saline bags to treat patients, unwittingly playing a role in their deaths. Chua was convicted of murdering Tracey Arden, 44, and Derek Weaver, 83 and has been described by police detectives as a narcissistic psychopath.
Unlike some other angel of death nurses, Chua did not choose which patients he wanted to kill. Instead he willingly contaminated saline being used by other nurses to treat patients, knowing the delivery of these drugs would kill the elderly patients they were given to. He left it to chance which of the hospital patients would die.
Nurses do have an extraordinary amount of power and opportunity when treating vulnerable patients. When they decide to exert such power to kill, they do generally work alone, quietly carrying out their sinister actions and watching the consequences. A case in Vienna, Austria, however, saw four nurses work together to administer lethal injections to patients.
Their activities went undetected and it is believed they could have killed up to 300 patients. They were caught after being heard boasting about their kills by a colleague and an investigation was launched.
One of the four and the suspected ring-leader, Waltraud Wagner, claimed she was helping her victims by easing their pain, when in reality the enjoyment of control and power over helpless patients is more likely the motive behind such cruel behaviour.
Officially known as Healthcare Serial Killers (HSKs), in recent years after an influx of cases from around the world, psychologists and criminologists have been focusing their attention on researching the motives and actions of these individuals.
Such research has found that 72% of cases occur inside of hospitals where patients are at their most vulnerable with 20% of cases occurring inside of nursing homes and 6% inside the patient’s own home.
The case of Victorino Chua echos that of Colin Norris, a healthcare nurse who was found guilty of murdering four of his patients over a 6 month period in 2002 in Leeds. Jailed for life in 2008, police said this was a nurse who did not kill to ease the pain of his patients, but because he didn’t like the care he had to provide to them as part of his duties as a nurse. In the last two years however there have been increasing doubts over the conviction of Colin Norris who has always protested his innocence. His case is currently being reviewed by the Criminal Cases Review Commission.
While medical serial killers are most often nurses, it is not unheard of for a doctor to take it upon themselves to end their patients lives. Dr Harold Shipman, a community GP in Hyde near Manchester, began killing his elderly patients inside their own homes by administering injections and making their deaths look like natural causes. When eventually caught, he was convicted of 15 murders however, a full inquiry after his trial concluded he was responsible for 218 murders. Dr Shipman is the only GP to have been convicted of murdering his own patients although a fair few others have been accused. Shortly after receiving his life sentence, Dr Harold Shipman took his own life in prison.
Victorino Chua has been in jail for just over a year for the murders of two innocent patients in hospital ward where they should have been safe. He has so far shown no remorse for his actions or given any real explanation of why he did it. This is a man who is unlikely to be released any time soon.