Male nurse 'drugged and raped patients'

A male nurse killed one of his colleagues and raped two patients after drugging them with an anaesthetic, the Old Bailey was told yesterday.

Kevin Cobb, who is married to a GP, is alleged to have raped the two women in a hospital's accident and emergency department. The drugging of his colleague is said to have taken place while they were both on a training course and he is also said to have drugged and assaulted another patient. He denies a total of 11 charges, including manslaughter.

The court heard that at the centre of the case was the drug Midazolam, used in minor surgery and readily available in casualty departments. It also has dangerous side-effects, including a proclivity to cause breathing difficulties. The drug takes affect in seconds.

Victor Temple QC, for the prosecution, said: "This defendant carried out a systematic course of conduct, abusing his position of trust towards patients and colleagues. On four occasions, he secretly administered Midazolam to young women. His underlying reason was one of sexual gratification. Not withstanding that it caused the death of Susan Annis... [he] carried on undeterred until his arrest."

The court was told that Mr Cobb, 38, from Yateley, Hampshire, had worked in the A&E department of St Peter's Hospital at Chertsey, Surrey. With Ms Annis, 31, and other colleagues, he had been on a child nursing course at the Brompton Hospital, South Kensington, London, in November 1996.

On the night of her death, Ms Annis and Mr Cobb had taken some drinks back to his room. Mr Cobb told police she had passed out but then woke and went back to her own room. He said he had later found hercollapsed. A post-mortem examination showed she had Midazolam and alcohol in her body and that she suffered from a medical condition that caused her heart to race. An inquest was unable to establish whether she had taken the drug herself.

Mr Temple said: "This defendant had secretly introduced Midazolam into Miss Annis's cider", intending to make her comatose and commit a sexual assault. "But before he could carry out that intention she suffered an adverse reaction to the drug with fatal consequences."

The inquiry was reopened after Mr Cobb's arrest in January last year, after a 33-year-old woman complained she had been raped by him in A&E.

Police inquiries and a letter sent to patients by the hospital led to complaints from two married women who had been treated by Mr Cobb. Mr Temple said that one of the women was raped after being drugged by Mr Cobb, who told her he was to give her a "pre-med". Another woman was injected by Mr Cobb, who told her he was taking a blood sample. She said her body became "like a rag doll" and she became aware Mr Cobb was raping her.

A Royal Army Medical Corps private, David Parry, seconded to the hospital at the time, said he had looked into a room and seen a woman who was "spaced out" being touched on the lower stomach by Mr Cobb. The trial continues.

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