Stepping Hill nurse arrested on suspicion of murder remanded in custody in Manchester

By Joe Dalton, Crime Correspondent

The nurse accused of tampering with saline drips leading to the deaths of five patients at Stockport’s Stepping Hill Hospital was remanded in custody last week.

Rebecca Leighton, 27, sobbed before a packed public gallery at Manchester Magistrates’ Court as police led her away in handcuffs.

Leighton stands accused of three counts of criminal damage with intent to endanger life and three counts of criminal damage being reckless as to whether life was being endangered.

She is also charged with stealing medicine from a drugs cupboard at the hospital.

If convicted, the maximum sentence Leighton may face is life imprisonment.

Her next court appearance will be at a preliminary hearing held on August 1 at Manchester Crown Court.

Detectives arrested the nurse last Wednesday following the deaths of hospital patients Tracey Arden, 44, Arnold Lancaster, 71, and 84-year-old George Keep.

The following day police announced the deaths of Derek Weaver, 83, and Vera Pearson, 84, were also being investigated as part of the same inquiry.

It is alleged Leighton sabotaged the patients’ drips with insulin after police found a batch of 36 contaminated saline ampoules in a hospital store-room.

Several patients on the A1 and A3 wards were found to have unusually low blood sugar levels which could have been a reaction to the insulin.

Mr Weaver, from Stockport, died after suffering a hypoglycaemic episode after he was initially admitted with breathing problems.

Nine other patients were affected by a drop in blood sugar levels though hospital staff say they are not at risk.

Police say 60 detectives are now working on the investigation while Stepping Hill have tightened their security with staff made to work in pairs when checking and administering drugs.

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