Saturday, September 10, 2011

Killer at large: Have Stepping Hill Hospital police missed their chance to catch a poisoner stalking the wards?

When detectives hunting the serial poisoner at Stepping Hill Hospital, Stockport, arrested nurse Rebecca Leighton just 13 days after the inquiry began, all those embroiled in this disturbing saga breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Miss Leighton was accused of criminal damage with intent to endanger life, rather than murder, although at least five patients were then believed to have been killed after having insulin injected into their saline drip bags. More serious charges seemed set to follow.

To the beleaguered staff at the hospital, the speedy arrest meant they could go about their duties unencumbered by constant security checks and free from the shadow of suspicion.

Their patients would no longer need to fear being attacked in their beds; the victims’ grieving relatives would be able to lay their loved ones to rest and, of course, it would be hailed as a ‘result’ for the Greater Manchester Police.

Late last Friday, however, Assistant Chief Constable Terry Sweeney dramatically announced that all charges against 27-year-old Miss Leighton had been dropped.

Taking refuge in jargon, he said: ‘The charges have been discontinued because the evidence has not built towards the Crown Court phase, so we could not bring a case at this point.’ Read More