A disgraced male nurse who drugged patients to impress colleagues with his resuscitation skills has been sentenced for the murders of 85 people.
Thought to be Germany’s deadliest post-war serial killer, 42-year-old Niels Hoegel was on Thursday (local time) sentenced to life in jail by a German court.
Hoegel, already serving a life sentence for two previous murder convictions, admitted at a trial in October last year to murdering 100 patients at two German hospitals between 2000 to 2005.
The District Court of Oldenburg found him guilty of causing 85 patient deaths but was forced to dismiss 15 counts of murder due to a lack of evidence.
Police believe the true death toll could be much higher, with some reporting as many as 200, however many patients were cremated affecting the ability to gather evidence.
Prosecutors claimed Hoegel administered lethal doses of heart medication to impress colleagues with his revival skills.
His victims, aged 34 to 96, were selected at random. Many of them were recovering from an illness.
One colleague told media that Hoegel was nicknamed “resuscitation Rambo” for the way he pushed people aside who needed to be revived.
“Your guilt is incomprehensible,” Judge Sebastian Buerhmann said in his sentencing remarks.
Referring to these cases, Mr Buehrmann said of the relatives: “We leave you with doubts that are surely painful for you, but we have at this point to disappoint you.”
In his first trial in 2015, Hogel said he deliberately brought 90 patients into cardiac arrest because he enjoyed the thrill of trying to revive them.
This led authorities to review more than 500 patient files and hundreds more hospital records.
They also exhumed 134 bodies from 67 cemeteries, and questioned Hoegel multiple times, concluding that he had used a variety of drugs to attempt resuscitation of his patients, and was fully aware they might die.
“The fact is sometimes the worst fantasy is not enough to describe the truth,” Judge Buehrmann said.
According to a psychological report submitted to the court in April, Hoegel showed signs of a disturbed personality, including a lack of shame, guilt, regret and empathy.
The killing spree ended in 2005 when another nurse caught him in the act of injecting medication that had not been prescribed into a patient.
Niels Högel, who injected drugs into his victims in order to give his patients heart attacks and receive praise from his colleagues for giving resuscitation, has been sentenced to life in prison.https://t.co/wqlbQUxCFd pic.twitter.com/9AqFVeQ4b0
— euronews (@euronews) June 6, 2019
Christian Marbach, a spokesperson for relatives, said at the start of the trial it was a scandal Hoegel had been able to kill with impunity for years without officials intervening, the BCC reports.
Senior staff at the two hospitals had been accused of turning a blind eye to unusually high mortality rates.
In his most recent trial, Hoegel admitted 43 killings and disputed five. He also said he could not remember the other 52 suspected killings.
In his final words to the court on Wednesday, Hoegel asked for forgiveness from the relatives of his victims, saying that the trial had brought home to him how much suffering his “terrible crimes” had caused.
His defence team asked for 55 murders to be considered and 14 attempted murders, calling for acquittal in 31 cases, while prosecutors saw murder proved in 97 cases, with the other three charges failing on grounds of lack of evidence.