A male nurse has been sentenced to life imprisonment for killing 85 patients by giving them an overdose of medication so that he could then enjoy the feeling of trying to resuscitate them.
Former nurse Niels Hoegel, 42, was sentenced to life at the Oldenburg Regional Court for killing 85 patients from 2000 to 2005 in Oldenburg and Delmenhorst in the north-western German state of Lower Saxony.
He deliberately gave overdoses to patients with medication such as lidocaine so that he could enjoy the feeling of resuscitating them.
Judge Sebastian Buehrmann said: “It’s so incomprehensible what you did, I cannot believe what you have done.
Pictures Credit: CEN
“Sometimes the worst imagination is not enough to describe what you have done.”
A day earlier during his closing statement, Hoegel took the opportunity to confess to his acts and to apologise to the victims’ relatives.
While on previous trial days he was seen hiding his face from the press behind a binder, during his closing statement he openly faced the whole courtroom.
Hoegel said: “I would like to sincerely apologise to all those affected for all that I have done to them.
“I have killed countless people for motives that today are incomprehensible to me. Remorse and shame are my daily companions.”
Pictures Credit: CEN
Most of the relatives were not too pleased with Hoegel’s admission of guilt.
The co-plaintiffs’ lawyer Gaby Luebben said: “Hoegel has read it nicely, but there were no emotions to be seen at all.”
Hoegel’s team of lawyers, Ulrike Baumann and Kirsten Huefken, said that “neither we nor Mr Hoegel deny that he is in many cases the culprit”.
Yet of the 100 murder cases Hoegel is suspected of, they argued in court that Hoegel can only be connected to 55 murder counts, with the team admitting 14 cases of suspected murder as well, while in 31 cases they pleaded for an acquittal.
The lawyers based their case on the testimony of medical expert Wolfgang Koppert, who stated the probability that Hoegel was responsible for the death of each patient during the trial.
Pictures Credit: CEN
According to Hoegel’s lawyers, he cannot be held responsible for the deaths of the patients where the probability of them having been killed by Hoegel was a maximum of 50 percent, as they could have died by other means as well, such as as a result of their diseases or old age.
However, the judge found that the evidence, such as the toxicology reports, was sufficient to convict Hoegel of 85 murders.
Court psychiatric expert Prof Dr Henning Sass released his report on the alleged German death nurse, testifying that he thinks Hoegel is fully culpable and knew exactly what he was doing.
Dr Sass also gave a damning description of Hoegel’s bizarre character, saying: “He lacks shame, guilt, remorse and empathy.”
The court psychiatrist said that the defendant is highly dangerous as he has a “tendency” to commit crimes.
Hoegel had already been sentenced to life in prison in 2015 when the Oldenburg Regional Court found him guilty of two counts of murder, two counts of attempted murder and one count of GBH.
After that trial, prosecutors found enough evidence to charge him with dozens of other murders after receiving the toxicological results from the bodies of Hoegel’s victims.
The massive scale of the crimes first came to light after Hoegel was convicted of attempted murder in another case. He was reportedly caught red-handed by a colleague injecting a patient with a heart medication in 2005.
The suspect’s first alleged murder is thought to have been a female patient in February 2000 at an ICU in Oldenburg.
Hoegel reportedly confessed to most of the initial murders in court in 2015, but stressed that it was about the thrill and the recognition he received and not about killing the patients or absolving them of their pain.
He also claimed that he did not feel sorry while committing the murders, saying: “I didn’t feel grief in that sense.”
The exact number of his spree cannot be confirmed as the number of unreported cases could be higher and some of the patients have been cremated, rendering drug residue tests useless.
A former inmate of Hoegel’s claimed that the German nurse talks openly about his crimes and that other prisoners view him as a hero.
Thorsten K., a 43-year-old inmate who served time with Hoegel after being convicted of fraud, said that he spoke many times about killing patients in the clinic.
Thorsten K. said: “He wanted to boast about his deeds. He needed to be recognised whenever he successfully resuscitated someone.”
Hoegel is one of Germany’s most prolific post-war murderers after being found guilty of the new murder charges.
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