Nurses made confessions `under extreme pressure'

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The Independent Online
Confessions allegedly made by two British nurses charged with killing a fellow nurse in Saudi Arabia were extracted under pressure after five days of questioning, according to colleagues of the women in Dhahran.

Sources at the King Fahd Military Medical Centre, where Yvonne Gilford, 55, was murdered, claim that the women were told they would be freed if they signed the confessions.

Details of the pressure on the women emerged as the family of one, Lucille McLauchlan, 31, held an emotional news conference at which they disclosed that she had called them from prison to protest her innocence.

Ms McLauchlan and Deborah Parry, 41, were charged on Christmas Eve with the murder of Ms Gilford, in Dhahran. Ms Gilford, an Australian, had been stabbed four times, beaten over the head with a hammer and smothered in her room on 10 December. A week later the two British nurses were allegedly caught by a store video camera using her credit cards.

A colleague of the accused, who refused to be named, said: "Both girls were questioned for five days without lawyers present. They were told that if they signed a confession, they would be allowed to go home. Nobody here believes that the girls could have done this."

Another said there was concern over a murder two years ago in which a Filipino nurse was stabbed to death. That case remains unsolved, although no one was available at the medical centre to confirm the details last night.

British consular officials plan to see the two women this weekend. The Foreign Office said last night the visit would enable them "to see what progress is being made in getting them legal representation."

During yesterday's news conference in Ms McLauchlan's home town of Dundee, her mother, Ann, broke down in tears and her father, Stan, displayed signs of strain. Her brother, John, 28, was the only family member to speak.

He said: "We have spoken to Lucy very briefly on the phone and she has assured us of her innocence.

"We are obviously worried sick about her situation and are making efforts to secure the very best legal representation for her. Lucy lived for nursing and has spent all her working life caring for others. Anyone who knows Lucy knows she is not capable of hurting anyone."

Family details for Ms Parry, who is thought to come from the Midlands, are unclear. It is understood she told colleagues that her mother, father, brother and brother-in-law were all dead.