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Former nurse has been given a life sentence for murdering 85 patients in the worst killing spree in Germany’s post-war history.

Niels Hoegel, 42, injected people with lethal drugs and then played the hero by appearing to struggle to revive them, a court heard.

“Your crimes are impossible to grasp,” judge Sebastian Buehrmann reportedly told him.

“The human mind struggles to take in the sheer scale of these crimes.”

Hoegel – whose victims were aged between 34 and 96 – was already serving a life sentence after being convicted in 2015 of two murders and two attempted murders.

He worked at a hospital in the northwestern city of Oldenburg between 1999 and 2002 and another hospital in nearby Delmenhorst from 2003 to 2005.

He was charged with committing 100 murders between 2000 and 2005. He admitted 43 of them, disputed five and said he could not remember the other 52.

Hoegel was acquitted of 15 of the charges due to a lack of evidence.

There are no consecutive sentences in the German court system and under the country’s law he could be released after 15 years.

However, a ruling on the seriousness of the crimes all but ensures he will remain in the jail after the standard 15-year term is up.

The court also banned Hoegel from practising nursing for life.

During his first trial, Hoegel said he intentionally brought about cardiac crises in some 90 patients in Delmenhorst because he enjoyed the feeling of being able to resuscitate them.

Frank Brinkers, whose father was killed by Hoegel, closes his eyes outside court
He later told investigators that he also killed patients in Oldenburg.

Authorities subsequently investigated hundreds of deaths, exhuming bodies of former patients.

In his closing statement to the court on Wednesday, Hoegel apologised and said he realised how much pain and suffering he had caused with his “terrible deeds”.

“To each and every one of you I sincerely apologise for all that I have done,” he said.

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