Monday, September 05, 2011

Shocking arrest and imprisonment without trial of innocent British nurse

All on mere supposition -- with no evidence. What price her reputation now?

A nurse who was accused of contaminating saline in a hospital and who was branded a killer by fellow prisoners now plans to sue police.

Charges against Rebecca Leighton, 27, were dropped on Friday and she was immediately released from prison where she was being kept on remand.

It is believed she now plans to sue police for a six-figure sum, claiming wrongful arrest, and trying to gain compensation worth up to £1million.

Meanwhile police have said they will leave 'not stone unturned in their investigation into the deaths of seven hospital patients and there are plans to interview at least another 500 potential witnesses.

Detectives investigating the poisoning of the patients at Stepping Hill Hospital, Stockport, now believe that two killers may have been working at the premises.

Miss Leighton walked free from custody on Friday after the Crown Prosecution Service dropped the case against her. She said: ‘I have been living in hell and was locked up in prison for something I had not done.’

A solicitor acting for Miss Leighton told the Sunday Mirror that he had visited her twice a week while she was at Styal women's prison in Cheshire. He said: 'I don't know how Rebecca kept it together. She spent the entire 42 days in a special 'first night' centre designed for new prisoners.

'Rebecca was forced to stay on her own. Other inmates shouted through their cell doors that she was a murderer. One even spread a rumour on of the patients who died was her granddad and Rebecca would be attacked if she showed herself.' The lawyer said she cried every night and added the only way she managed to keep sane was through regular visits from her family.

Now, according to police sources, the investigation is focusing on evidence suggesting that two individuals are responsible for poisoning saline solutions.

Officers found evidence of two different sets of fingerprints on tampered stock. The police investigation was hampered over the past two months by the difficulty of establishing who had access to medical supplies at the hospital and because of lack of security over where they were stored.

Police believe they are close to apprehending one of the two people they believe sabotaged the saline solutions. The suspect is male, works within the hospital and has access to the medical supplies.

A police source told The Mail on Sunday last night: ‘The entire investigation has been fraught with difficulties but it is believed that there may be at least two individuals responsible. One of them, a man, has already been spoken to by detectives and his fingerprints are on one of the pivotal damaged sets of saline solution.

‘There is also a different set of fingerprints on the other damaged solution, pointing to the fact that there are two people responsible. ‘It is unclear at the moment whether the man acted alone but police are pursuing the idea that he may be a copycat “killer”. ‘It is too early to say at this point but the net is definitely closing in.’

The source added: ‘One of the huge hurdles the investigation has faced so far is that there was virtually no security or checks for access to the medicine stores. Almost anyone could gain access, including nurses, patients and even visitors.

‘Some were taking medicines for personal use or for use at home with their families while others were even selling it on.

‘At one point, the chief constable wanted to shut the hospital down completely but this avenue was not available to him. He was so angry at what was going on inside there and how it was impeding the investigation.’

Ms Leighton was freed after the CPS dropped the case against her, saying it was ‘no longer appropriate’ for them to pursue a prosecution.

Speaking through her lawyer, Ms Leighton said: ‘First and foremost I would wish to thank with all my heart all of those people who have supported me and have not given up on me and never doubted my innocence during this living nightmare. ‘If it was not for the unerring love and support of my family, I do not know how I would have coped. It was so frustrating for me knowing that the person who has actually carried out these terrible acts is still out there.’

Assistant Chief Constable Terry Sweeney of Greater Manchester Police said the investigation – one of the most complex since the 1996 bombing of the Arndale shopping centre by the IRA – may continue for months. He said: ‘We have to work within a crime scene which is a very busy hospital where staff, visitors and patients have some degree of access to products within the hospital.’

Officers have interviewed 200 out of 700 people they want to speak to. Their list includes hospital staff, patients and visitors.

A spokeswoman for Stepping Hill Hospital said heightened security measures remain in place and will continue for the foreseeable future.

Original report here

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