Dental surgery boss 'suffered seizures after nurse put mercury in coffee'

 

The "distraught" boss of a dental nurse was admitted to hospital and suffered from seizures three days after the nurse tried to poison her at the surgery, a court heard today.

Ravinder Kaur, 34, is charged with administering a "poison or noxious substance with intent" after she allegedly put mercury amalgam - a substance used in dental fillings - into a cup of coffee she made for her boss Laura Knowles.

Assistant dental nurse Kaur, who denies the charge, is accused of slipping the substance into Laura Knowles' cup of coffee at a dental practice in Shefford, Bedfordshire, on Friday March 16 last year.

Ms Knowles, 36, the practice manager at the Shams Moopen Dental Practice, suffered with what she described as "severe period pains" initially, but her symptoms worsened.

Ms Knowles told the jury that over the weekend she had bouts of dizziness, diarrhoea and vomiting.

On her return to work on Monday, Ms Knowles had to be hospitalised due to having a seizure - "the type people suffer when they have an epileptic fit", according to Rupert Bowers, defending.

She also lost consciousness.

Ms Knowles told the jury she attributes all of her symptoms to the mercury, but admitted that to this day she has "no knowledge whatsoever" regarding the consequences of ingesting the substance.

Despite the pains and sickness, Ms Knowles said it was the hurt she felt which affected her most in the wake of the alleged incident.

"I was distraught for the whole day and beyond," she said.

Mr Bowers' questioning of Ms Knowles painted a picture of a workplace where there was "disharmony" in the run-up to 16 March.

Ms Knowles told the court the surgery was "less than harmonious", and spoke about a dentist in the surgery requesting not to work with Kaur and in turn Kaur refusing to work with another dentist.

On Kaur's refusal to work with one of the dentists, Ms Knowles said: "They had a clash of personality. Both had come to me with separate issues."

Ms Knowles told the jury about how Kaur's relationship with a fellow dental nurse had "deteriorated so badly it was affecting patients coming into the surgery".

She said there was a culture of complaining about fellow staff members, describing the extent as "certainly week on week", and acknowledged that "general sniping" was commonplace.

Ms Knowles herself was spoken to by Dr Shams Moopen - the practice owner - about a letter he had received from a dental nurse complaining about Knowles' "preferential treatment" of Kaur, the woman accused of putting mercury in her coffee.

Ms Knowles said he spoke to her about the "disharmony within the practice" and said staff would have to "behave more appropriately".

Despite the discontent in the surgery, she believed she was on good terms with Kaur, telling the jury: "I considered myself to be Ravi's friend and mentor."

Mr Bowers told the jury that a letter sent to Kaur by Dr Moopen following a disciplinary meeting on 13 March - described as a final warning - was withdrawn by him on 29 March and he also apologised.

The letter said Kaur had "serious disagreements" with colleagues which "disrupted the smooth running of the surgery".

It suggested that she had left patients in the dentist's chair because she believed it was time for her to have her lunch.

The letter warned her that any future misconduct could result in her dismissal.

PA

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
A teenager boy wakes up.
life
Life and Style
Researchers have said it could take only two questions to identify a problem with alcohol
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
A still from Duncan Campbell's hour-long film 'It for Others'
Turner Prize 2014
Life and Style
food + drink
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hadley in a scene from ‘Soul Boys Of The Western World’
musicSpandau Ballet are back together - on stage and screen
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Ed Stoppard as Brian Epstein, Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Elliott Cowan as George Martin in 'Cilla'
tvCilla review: A poignant ending to mini-series
News
i100
Life and Style
Bearing up: Sebastian Flyte with his teddy Aloysius in Brideshead Revisited
lifePhilippa Perry explains why a third of students take a bear to uni
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Alan Sugar appearing in a shot from Apprentice which was used in a Cassette Boy mashup
artsA judge will rule if pieces are funny enough to be classed as parodies
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style