Care home boss Rachel Baker found not guilty of murder

April 8, 2010 | by | 0 Comments

A drug addict nurse who stole prescriptions from residents to feed her habit has been cleared of murdering two frail pensioners in her care.

Rachel Baker, 44, is accused of administering lethal overdoses of painkillers to Frances Hay, 85, and Lucy Cox, 97, due to a twisted desire to ”control their terminal destiny”.

She also stole an estimated 8,000 doses of medication intended for patients to feed her addiction to prescription drugs.

Baker – a registered nurse – then doctored medical records to hide her addiction from the authorities.

But yesterday a jury of five men and seven women at Bristol Crown Court found her not guilty of two counts of murder and one of attempted murder on Frances Hay after five days of deliberations.

However, the jury is still considering lesser charges of manslaughter of the two women.

Baker bowed her head and sobbed in the dock as the unanimous verdicts were read out at 11.30am yesterday.

She had previously admitted 10 counts of possessing class A and C drugs, and one of perverting the course of justice by doctoring records.

Baker became a registered nurse in November 1987 and began working at the Parkfields Care Home in Butleigh, Somerset, with her husband Leigh, 50, the following year.

But she started suffering migraines in 1999 and got hooked on prescription painkillers.

Her addiction spiralled out of control and in 2006 she began stealing prescription from patients including the heroin derivative diamorphine, pethidine and diazepam.

She has previously pleaded guilty to stealing a total of 8,000 individual doses of 10 different drugs between January 2006 and January 2007.

Opening the murder trial in January, prosecutor David Fisher said: ”Rachel Baker was, by her own admission, regularly taking prescribed drugs which must have had a substantial effect on her character and conduct.

”She, for a variety of bizarre and perverted reasons, may have had a desire to control the terminal destiny of some of her residents.”

Baker’s colleague Kathy Slade told the trial she saw Baker tending to Mrs Hay in her wheelchair on November 20, 2006 and heard her say ”Frances, shall we end it all now?’

To which Mrs Hay replied ‘Oh no, darling. I’m all right, darling’ and then Rachel Baker said ‘Shall we do it now?’

Mrs Hay’s condition then rapidly deteriorated until her eventual death two days later.

Experts later found her given cause of death – acute ischemic bowel – was not the likely cause of death, although could not offer an alternative as her body was cremated.

Mrs Cox died on January 1, 2007, and a post-mortem examination revealed she had a lethal dose of painkiller Tramadol in her system – a drug she was never prescribed.

Baker broke down as she told the nine-week trial that she cared for her residents as though they were her ‘second family’.

When asked by defence counsel Richard Smith why she started abusing drugs, Baker replied: ”Because of the stress, pain and emotional turmoil in my head.”

When asked how she felt about stealing drugs from residents to feed her addiction, Baker tearfully said: ”Disgusted and ashamed for everything I have put people through.

”I betrayed their trust. They cared for me and I betrayed their trust and that of everybody who has tried to support me.

”I am totally totally ashamed and disgusted at what I have done.”

The jury has been told they can return a majority verdict of ten to two on the remaining manslaughter charges.

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