A nurse has been found guilty of murdering two patients during a reign of terror at the hospital where he worked.
Victorino Chua, aged 49, of no fixed address, deliberately contaminated products that were stored on acute treatment wards at Stepping Hill hospital with insulin.
The products – which included saline bags and ampoules – would then be used by unsuspecting staff members to treat unsuspecting patients.
The insulin would cause them to suffer hypoglycaemia – a drop in blood sugar levels.
The effects of such poisoning vary drastically but can result in death and Chua was found guilty of the murders of Tracy Arden, and Alfred Derek Weaver, known to his family as Derek.
He was also found guilty of intentionally causing grievous bodily harm to one patient who suffered a brain injury as a result of being poisoned and for whom Chua falsified his medical records, recording him as being conscious and alert when blood tests have proven that he was suffering severe hypoglycaemia.
Chua was also found guilty of attempting to intentionally cause grievous bodily harm to 21 other patients who became unwell after being treated with products contaminated with insulin but for who it could not be proven beyond all reasonable doubt suffered injury as a result or who suffered no lasting effects.
In the case of one of the patients, Chua was seen by staff to give a false reading by placing his own finger in a probe that records patient information.
A police investigation commenced in July 2011, after a number of patients fell-ill and contaminated products were discovered.
Officers from GMP’s Major Incident Team commenced an investigation into the poisonings and contaminations. The main lines of investigation included a review of hospital data, including point of care results, medical records and preserved blood samples, a review of the supply chain of effected products and an investigation into the shift patterns, backgrounds and working practices of hospital staff.
Due to the ongoing inquiry, Chua changed tact as he sought to poison other patients – again indirectly – in January 2012, by altering patients’ prescriptions.
Alterations involved adding prescription only drugs or increasing the size or frequency of the dose.
One patient was actually administered a dose prior to the alterations being discovered and subsequently made a full recovery.
In respect of these offences, he was found guilty of eight offences of unlawfully administering or causing to be taken by another person any poison or destructive or noxious thing with intent to injure, aggrieve or annoy, or attempting to do so after deliberately altering prescriptions.
Of all employees, including permanent, temporary and ‘bank’ staff, detectives established Chua was the only person on shift proximate to three key events. He was present when five patients were poisoned overnight between 10th and 11th July 2011; when contaminated ampoules were found overnight between 11th and 12th July 2011; and when prescription charts were fraudulently altered on 3 January 2012.
During a search of his house following his arrest, detectives recovered an autobiographical letter penned by Chua. In it he wrote, “I’m a nice person but there a devil in me…I’m evil at the same time angel,” and: “So I’m writing this letter in case something happen to me my family can continue my case or can tell somebody to look at it and work out how and angel turn to an evil person. The bitter nurse confession. Got lots to tell but I just take it to my grave.”
Detective Superintendent Simon Barraclough, said:
“On behalf of Greater Manchester Police, I would like to once again extend my sympathies to the families of Tracey Arden, Arnold Lancaster and Derek Weaver as well as all the victims of poisoning and their families.
“I hope they find some modicum of comfort and closure now that the person responsible for these heinous crimes has been caught.
“Hidden in plain sight and using unsuspecting colleagues to carry out his sinister plan, Victorino Chua deliberately poisoned and murdered those who were under his care and those who were at their most vulnerable and most in need of help.
“He would then watch the fruits of his labour unfold, as absolute chaos ensued across the wards as colleagues fought to save patients whilst attempting to comprehend what was happening.
“Chua has demonstrated clear narcissistic and psychopathic tendencies and such indiscriminate poisoning is testament to that. He clearly had no regard for his patients and did not give a second thought as to who would be injured or the devastation this would cause them and their families.
“There can be no doubt that he intended to both murder and injure patients under his care; despite him knowing what effect this poisoning was causing, he continued with no regard for his victims.
“It is so far from keeping with the ethos of those employed at the hospital or as health professionals generally that it is incredulous to believe someone in that vocation to be capable of such malevolence.
“From the outset we committed significant resources to this investigation with a view to bringing the offender to justice and I have to say that the cooperation we have received from Stepping Hill from the very beginning has been wholehearted: they have remained as resolute and determined as we to unmask the perpetrator, from the first day to the last.
“I would also like to thank those from the CPS who have been embedded with us while the investigation was progressing for their insight and assistance and whose excellent prosecution has resulted in this conviction as well as the many experts across Europe, without whose help we would not be where we are today.
“This has been without question the most complex police investigation I have undertaken in more than 15 years as a senior police detective, and I do not have the words to adequately convey my admiration for every member of my team for their fortitude and commitment to this case.
“Each and every one of them has had to develop a substantial understanding of acute care medicine and hospital procedures in order to get us to where we are today and I greatly understate that achievement when I say that is no mean feat.”
Notes to editors:
As part of the investigation 7,587 ‘actions’ were generated that included obtaining 3,291 statements and exhibiting 5,394 items. The prosecution file exceeds 30,000 pages and the overall investigation collated the equivalent of more than 500,000 pages of information.
In addition the investigation obtained more than 17,000 items of material that was not used by the prosecution, a single one of which might exceed 1,000 pages.
As part of the investigation a team of detectives also flew to Chua’s native Philippines where they were able to establish that he left one hospital after being caught stealing. They also visited the now defunct Galang training college where he claimed to have obtained his medical qualifications. As a result of investigations conducted, serious doubt has been cast relating to the authenticity of them.