Consultant who tried to poison pregnant lover 'a liar and a cheat'

Judge delivers damning verdict as he sentences doctor to six years in jail

A hospital consultant who tried to poison his pregnant lover with drugs to induce an abortion was described as "a liar, a cheat and a predator" yesterday as he was jailed for six years.

Edward Erin, 44, who had 20 years' experience as a respiratory specialist, spiked drinks he gave to Bella Prowse, a medical secretary at the central London hospital where he worked, after she became pregnant during a brief affair in December 2007 and refused his pleas to have a termination.

Ms Prowse, 33, alerted police after she noticed a cup of coffee and a bottle of fruit juice given to her by the doctor, from Kensington, west London, had been tampered with. Tests subsequently showed that a residue at the bottom of the drinks was a ground-up drug capable of inducing an abortion.

Erin, a father-of-two whose wife Lowri has vowed to stand by him, was found guilty last month at the Old Bailey of two charges of attempting to administer a poison.

Judge Richard Hone, sentencing Erin, told the doctor he was a serial philanderer who had had three affairs, using his wealth, five-star hotels and taste in expensive tailored clothing to "dazzle" the women he had decided to pursue.

The judge said: "You are a flawed character. One part of you is a doctor caring for his patients. But your other part is self-centred, vainglorious and irresponsible. The three affairs ... illustrate how you exploited your senior position as a consultant respiratory physician to lure women into sexual relations.

"Your property wealth, tailored wardrobe, high lifestyle, illicit weekends and expensive trinkets dazzled those whom you designed to seduce. You are clever, but also devious and dishonest. You inhabited a fantasy world."

Ms Prowse, who was present in court for the sentencing, told Erin a month after their affair that she was pregnant in a text message, to which Erin replied: "Oh my god. No."

His trial heard that that the doctor, the son of a leading chest consultant who was brought up in south Wales, had admitted to obtaining the medication later found in Ms Prowse's drinks but vigorously denied administering them. He said he had only wanted to show his lover that they would taste disgusting in a drink to dissuade her from her pleas to terminate the pregnancy without surgical intervention – a claim dismissed as "laughable" by prosecutors.

Ms Prowse, who has a teenage daughter from a previous relationship, spent the remainder of her pregnancy not knowing if Erin had succeeded in giving her the medication in other drinks and therefore potentially damaging her unborn child. She eventually gave birth to a healthy boy, Ernie, in September 2008.

The court heard that Erin, who told the jury in his trial that he had worked "very, very hard" to attain his senior position at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington so he could help patients, had betrayed his profession, his wife and his family. The consultant disputes that he is the father of the child and says he has not been told the result of a paternity test.

Judge Hone said: "When you told the jury that your profession is to preserve life not end it, those words should have stuck in your throat, but out they came, so desperate were you to hoodwink the jury and save your skin.

"Looked at from the woman's perspective, you intended an invasion of her body, the thinking man's equivalent of an act of violence. The fact that no harm has yet resulted to the child is no thanks to you."

In a statement on behalf of Ms Prowse, Detective Chief Inspector Michael Gallagher said after the hearing: "She felt she was close to a nervous breakdown on several occasions and in extreme distress. She is now steeling herself for the day when she has to tell the truth about the father."

Clare Montgomery, defending, said that her client had been threatened repeatedly while he was being held in prison and that he now felt "his life was over". It emerged yesterday that clinical research submitted by Erin is now being re-examined to check its validity.

Lowri Erin, a microbiologist, who was not in court yesterday, said after her husband's conviction that she had been aware of his affairs and she was standing by him because he "done nothing but help people all his life".

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