Kim De Gelder
Kim De Gelder was found guilty of murdering the two babies and their carer in Belgium in 2009. He was dressed as The Joker

A child killer dubbed "The Joker" has been jailed for life after he was found guilty of murdering two babies and their carer at a nursery in Belgium, and killing an elderly woman in a separate attack.

Kim De Gelder, 24, broke into the nursery dressed as the comic book villain, and murdered the two babies, aged six and nine months, and a 54-year-old woman. He was also found guilty of the attempted murder of 22 others.

With his hair dyed red, his face painted white and wearing dark eyeliner, Kim De Gelder knifed his victims at the Fable Land nursery in Dendermonde in January 2009. He was also convicted of murdering an elderly woman in a separate attack the previous week.

The court ruled out mental illness as a mitigating factor after De Gelder told psychiatrists he had heard voices commanding him to commit the murders.

After deliberating for four hours, the jury in Ghent found he was "not in a demonic state or mentally troubled" at the time of the killings.

During the trial, De Gelder described meticulously planning his crimes, and practised how to slash throats using a wooden cutout in his apartment.

In a verdict delivered on live television, Judge Koen Defoort told the court: "The defendant is guilty of murder, to have killed deliberately and with intent. The cowardly way in which the victims' lives were taken shows that Kim De Gelder totally lacks morals and empathy.

"You will be taken from society for a long time. I recommend that you use that time to think."

Reacting to the verdict, De Gelder said: "As it is now the last time I can speak to all these people, I wish to apologise for the suffering I caused for the victims and society.

"Furthermore I should add: to all the victims present in this room, and I know you don't believe me, but I really am sorry."

Last July, 24-year-old James Holmes killed 12 people, injuring another 58, in a mass shootout during a screening of the Batman film The Dark Knight Rises in Colorado, USA.

Actor Heath Ledger, who played The Joker in the previous Batman film, The Dark Knight, was found dead in January 2008 after taking a fatal combination of prescription drugs.