Monday, February 16, 2015

Ben Geen: U.K. Four eminent statisticians have raised concerns about the quality of evidence used to convict him of murdering two patients and poisoning 15 others. The Guardian.

STORY: "Statisticians question evidence used to convict nurse of murdering patients," by reporter Hannah Devlin, published by the Guardian on February 15, 2015.

SUB-HEADING: "Experts concerned that ‘extreme rarity’ of respiratory arrests, claimed by witnesses at 2006 trial of Ben Geen, was made without required analysis."

Photo Caption:  "Staff nurse Benjamin Geen, who was convicted of murdering two of his patients and causing grievous bodily harm to a further 15 patients at Horton general hospital in Oxfordshire."

GIST: "Four eminent statisticians have raised concerns about the quality of evidence used to convict a nurse of murdering two patients and poisoning 15 others.  Ben Geen, 34, is serving a 30-year sentence after being convicted in 2006 of injecting patients with a variety of drugs in order to “satisfy his lust for excitement” when reviving them. There were no witnesses to the crimes, but Horton General hospital in Banbury identified an “unusual pattern” of respiratory arrests, which the prosecution said could only be explained by a member of staff deliberately harming patients. Now Sir David Spiegelhalter, of the University of Cambridge, has voiced concerns that the “extreme rarity” of respiratory arrests, claimed by expert witnesses at trial, was made without the methodical evidence-gathering and detailed analysis required. “I have no opinion on the innocence or guilt of Ben Geen, but I do feel that the statistical evidence in this case was not handled properly,” he said. Geen’s legal team has submitted independent reports by Spiegelhalter, Prof Norman Fenton, Prof Stephen Senn and Prof Sheila Bird to the Criminal Cases Review Commission in a bid to have the case referred to the appeal court, which has already upheld the conviction once.......... Spiegelhalter argues the case is illustrative of wider problems with how courts handle statistics. “They like either incontrovertible numerical facts, or overall expert opinions. But statisticians deal with a delicate combination of data and judgment that gives rise to rough numbers, and these don’t seem to fit well with the legal process.”

The entire story can be found at:


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