British nurse in court over hospital deaths

23rd July 2011, Comments 0 comments

A British nurse was remanded in custody by a court Saturday on charges relating to the deaths of five patients at a hospital where detectives believe saline solution was contaminated with insulin.

Rebecca Leighton, 27, was arrested at her home on Wednesday over the string of suspicious deaths this month at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport, outside Manchester in northwest England.

She was charged late Friday with three counts of criminal damage intending to endanger life and three charges of criminal damage being reckless as to whether life would be endangered, the Crown Prosecution Service said.

She has also been charged with a count of theft.

Leighton appeared at Manchester Magistrates Court on Saturday and was remanded in custody until August 1. She wiped away tears in the dock and glanced at a group of family and friends, speaking only to confirm her details.

Police believe someone deliberately tampered with a batch of saline at the hospital, contaminating it with insulin.

A 44-year-old woman suffering from multiple sclerosis died on July 7, followed by a 71-year-old man on July 11, an 84-year-old man and a woman of the same age on July 14 and an 83-year-old man on Thursday.

Ten other patients at the hospital have been affected, including a 41-year-old man, who is in critical condition.

Police were called in to the hospital last week after a nurse reported a higher than normal number of patients on her ward with "unexplained" low blood sugar levels, pointing to saline containers being sabotaged.

© 2011 AFP

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