A nurse has been found guilty for the murder of two patients during an horrific reign of terror at a Stockport hospital.
While working as a nurse at Stepping Hill hospital, Victorino Chua, of no fixed address, purposely contaminated products with insulin that were stored on acute treatment wards.
The products – that included saline bags and ampoules – would then be used by unwary staff members to treat unsuspecting patients.
Patients doped with the insulin would then suffer hypoglycaemia, resulting in a drop in blood sugar levels.
Though the effects of the insulin poisoning significantly vary, death can be a result in such poisoning.
Chua was found guilty for the murders of 44-year-old Tracey Arden, a mother-of-two and grandparent from Stockport and 83-year-old Alfred Derek Weaver.
He was also found guilty of intentionally causing grievous bodily harm to a patient who suffered a brain injury as a result of being poisoned.
The 49-year-old nurse falsified the victim’s medical records, recording him as being conscious and alert when blood tests proved that he was suffering severe hypoglycemia.
Chua, of no fixed address, was also found guilty of attempting to intentionally cause grievous bodily harm to 21 other patients who fell ill after being treated with products contaminated with insulin but for who it could not be proven beyond all reasonable doubt suffered injury as a result or who suffered no lasting effects.
Detective Superintendent Simon Barraclough, said: “On behalf of Greater Manchester Police, I would like to once again extend my sympathies to the families of Tracey Arden and Alfred Derek Weaver as well as all the victims of poisoning and their families.
“I hope they find some modicum of comfort and closure now that the person responsible for these heinous crimes has been caught.
The initial police investigation began in July 2011, after a number of patients became unwell and contaminated products were discovered.
An investigation by GMP’s Major Incident Team included a review of hospital data, including point of care results, medical records and preserved blood samples, a review of the supply chain of effected products and an investigation into the backgrounds, working practices and shift patterns of hospital staff.
Due to the ongoing inquiry, Chua changed tact as he sought to poison other patients – again indirectly – in January 2012, by altering patients’ prescriptions.
DS Barraclough said: “Hidden in plain sight and using unsuspecting colleagues to carry out his sinister plan, Victorino Chua deliberately poisoned and murdered those who were under his care and those who were at their most vulnerable and most in need of help.
“He would then watch the fruits of his labour unfold, as absolute chaos ensued across the wards as colleagues fought to save patients whilst attempting to comprehend what was happening.
“Chua has demonstrated clear narcissistic and psychopathic tendencies and such indiscriminate poisoning is testament to that.
“He clearly had no regard for his patients and did not give a second thought as to who would be injured or the devastation this would cause them and their families.”
During a police search of his house following his arrest, officers recovered a penned autobiographical letter by Chua.
In it he wrote: “I’m a nice person but there a devil in me…I’m evil at the same time angel.”
“So I’m writing this letter in case something happen to me my family can continue my case or can tell somebody to look at it and work out how and angel turn to an evil person.
“The bitter nurse confession. Got lots to tell but I just take it to my grave.”
During his murderous conquest, Chua’s alterations involved adding prescription only drugs or increasing the size or occurrence of the dose.
One victim was in fact administered a dose prior to the alterations being discovered and subsequently made a full recovery.
Taking all the offenses into account, the Filipino born nurse was found guilty of eight offences of unlawfully administering or causing to be taken by another person any poison or destructive or noxious thing with intent to injure, aggrieve or annoy, or attempting to do so after deliberately altering prescriptions.
Detectives found that of all employees, including permanent, temporary and ‘bank’ staff, Chua was the only person on shift close to three key events.
It was found that he was present when five patients were poisoned overnight between July 10 and 11 2011 where contaminated ampoules were found overnight between July 11 and 12 2011 and when prescription charts were fraudulently changed on January 3 2012.
DS Barraclough: “There can be no doubt that he intended to both murder and injure patients under his care; despite him knowing what effect this poisoning was causing, he continued with no regard for his victims.
“It is so far from keeping with the ethos of those employed at the hospital or as health professionals generally that it is incredulous to believe someone in that vocation to be capable of such malevolence.
“From the outset we committed significant resources to this investigation with a view to bringing the offender to justice and I have to say that the cooperation we have received from Stepping Hill from the very beginning has been wholehearted.
“They have remained as resolute and determined as we to unmask the perpetrator, from the first day to the last.
As part of the investigation, officers travelled to Chua’s native Philippines where they were able to establish that he had left a previous hospital after being caught stealing.
They also visited the now obsolete Galang training college where Chua claimed to have obtained his medical qualifications.
However, as a result of the investigations carried out, questions have been raised relating to the authenticity the certificates.
“I would also like to thank those from the CPS who have been embedded with us while the investigation was progressing for their insight and assistance and whose excellent prosecution has resulted in this conviction as well as the many experts across Europe, without whose help we would not be where we are today,” DS Barraclough.
“This has been without question the most complex police investigation I have undertaken in more than 15 years as a senior police detective, and I do not have the words to adequately convey my admiration for every member of my team for their fortitude and commitment to this case.
“Each and every one of them has had to develop a substantial understanding of acute care medicine and hospital procedures in order to get us to where we are today and I greatly understate that achievement when I say that is no mean feat.”
Image courtesy of Google Maps, with thanks.