March 29, 2014
A male nurse was yesterday charged with three murders after detectives uncovered new evidence about a series of hospital poisonings.
Married father of two Victorino Chua, 48, was also accused of 31 other offences – including GBH and attempted poisoning – in connection with deaths at Stepping Hill hospital in Stockport, Greater Manchester police said.
The decision to charge Chua, who emigrated to the UK from the Philippines more than a decade ago, follows a major review of the case spanning two and a half years.
Sources described yesterday’s arrest as ‘a significant development’ in the long-running inquiry. It is understood police have been liaising closely with the Crown Prosecution Service about the evidence against Chua for months.
In the summer of 2011, a woman nurse at Stepping Hill called Rebecca Leighton was arrested and charged in connection with the poisonings. She was sensationally exonerated after spending six weeks in custody for crimes she did not commit.
Since then, a new squad of detectives from Greater Manchester Police – which was greatly embarrassed over the bungled pursuit of Miss Leighton – has carried out painstaking analysis of medical samples, post mortem reports and work records.
It culminated in pint-sized Chua, first arrested on suspicion of murder and related offences in January 2012, being re-arrested in a dawn swoop at his home near Stockport, at 6.30am yesterday – three days before he was due to answer police bail.
Whitehall sources said the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and his advisers have been briefed on issues relating to the Stepping Hill poisonings. Critics say there should be a public inquiry into the case.
‘A man has been arrested in connection with the investigation into the deliberate contamination of products and tampering of medical records at Stepping Hill Hospital,’ said Greater Manchester Police shortly before Chua was charged.
‘Today, a 48-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of three counts of murder, 18 counts of causing grievous bodily harm with intent and offences of poisoning under Section 24 of the Offences Against the Person Act. He remains in police custody.’
The alleged poisoning offences relate to the alleged tampering of medical records and the contamination of intravenous medicines at the hospital. Eight patients who were poisoned by contaminated products later died.