Manchester

Stepping Hill murder case: Woman 'died day after admission'

Victorino Chua
Image caption Victorino Chua denies murdering three patients

The family of a woman allegedly murdered by a nurse at a Greater Manchester hospital stood in tears as a jury heard how she died a day after she was admitted with a chest infection.

Victorino Chua, 49, denies murdering three patients and poisoning 18 others at Stepping Hill Hospital, Stockport.

One alleged victim, Tracey Arden, died after arriving at the hospital in July 2011, Manchester Crown Court heard.

Her mother June Arden described the 44-year-old's deterioration.

Family members in the public gallery wiped away tears as her statement was read to the court by a barrister.

"It was the first time we hadn't been able to make her smile," the statement read.

"Tracey was definitely aware of her surroundings. She'd communicate by making noises,"

'Secret injections'

Ms Arden, who had suffered from multiple sclerosis since 1999, "had such a happy personality".

At the time of her death she could not speak, could not hold her head up and had to be fed through a tube in her stomach, the court heard.

Mr Chua, of Churchill Street, Heaton Norris, Stockport, is alleged to have killed his victims by secretly injecting insulin into saline bags.

The bags were used by "unsuspecting" nurses while treating patients on wards A1 and A3 at the hospital, the jury was previously told.

Jacqueline Martin, a sister on ward A3, also described Ms Arden's deterioration .

The nurse said she noticed that a cannula inserted into the patient's arm was not functioning properly, which meant she was not receiving dextrose solution or antibiotics through a saline drip.

'Difficulty breathing'

She called a doctor because Ms Arden was "looking very poorly and was having difficulty breathing" and her chest sounded "rattly".

The nurse tried to use suction to clear Ms Arden's lungs without success, although a physiotherapist managed to "clear a lot of secretions."

Peter Griffiths QC, defending, told the jury that it was disputed whether insulin was a "causative factor" in Mrs Arden's death.

Father-of-two Mr Chua is also accused of killing Arnold Lancaster, 71, and Derek Weaver, 83, at Stepping Hill.

The nurse has pleaded not guilty to 37 charges in all, including 25 counts of attempted grievous bodily harm with intent, eight counts of attempting to administer poison and one count of administering poison.

The alleged offences happened between June 2011 and January 2012.

The trial is expected to last up to four months.

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