Care home manager guilty of killing elderly resident

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The Independent Online

A care-home manager who stole medication from elderly residents to feed her own drug addiction has been found guilty of killing one of them.

Registered nurse Rachel Baker, 44, gave Lucy Cox, 97, lethal doses of medication while she herself was abusing controlled drugs she stole from Parkfields Residential Care Home, in Butleigh, Somerset.

Baker, of Glastonbury, was convicted of the manslaughter of Mrs Cox but acquitted by a jury at Bristol Crown Court of the manslaughter of another resident, Frances Hay, 85. She had admitted 10 counts of possessing class A and C drugs, and one of perverting the course of justice. But she denied killing the two women. She was acquitted on Thursday of charges that she murdered both of them.

Opening the case in January, prosecutor David Fisher said: "Rachel Baker was, by her own admission, regularly taking prescribed drugs, which must have had a substantial effect on her character and conduct. She may have had a desire to control the terminal destiny of some of her residents."

Care assistant Kathy Slade, who worked with Baker, gave evidence that she overheard her boss ask Mrs Hay if she wanted to "end it all" two days before she died. In her evidence, Baker blamed the "stress, pain and emotional turmoil" of running the home for her theft of the medication.

She also claimed she was left feeling "useless" after the death of one of the home's residents, Fred Green. But she denied that her "diverting" of residents' drugs ever affected their care.

Sarah Barnett, who worked at Parkfields and was one of the people who raised the alarm about Baker's behaviour, said after the conviction: "I'm relieved. It's the end of a lot of hurt for a lot of people. This situation must never ever be allowed to happen again."

Detective Superintendent Trevor Simpson, from Avon and Somerset Police, said: "Mrs Baker deliberately and dishonestly lied to, manipulated and abused the trust of others, including fellow healthcare professionals, carers and – most disturbing – the families of those residents in her care.

"All this deceit was for one selfish goal: to obtain the controlled drugs she wanted for her own addiction," he said, adding that the case had centred around one person – Baker – and that there were no problems with the general standard of care offered by the home.

The trial judge, Mr Justice Royce, gave warning to Baker that it was "inevitable" she was facing a jail sentence. She was remanded in custody and will be sentenced at a later date.