Nanny jailed for trying to poison lingerie tycoon

A nanny formerly employed by the Ann Summers lingerie tycoon Jacqueline Gold was jailed yesterday for trying to poison her boss in a "calculated and deceitful" manner. In an attack Judge Christopher Critchlow described as "totally bizarre", Allison Cox spiked her employer's food with screen-wash in an attempt to discredit the family's chef, whom she hated.

Cox, 33, who entered the dock sobbing, looked stunned as she was told she would be jailed for 12 months after admitting the attack.

Her crime was made worse, prosecutor Rachel Davies told Guildford Crown Court, because Cox had been treated as "part of the family", entrusted with looking after Ms Gold's daughter, Scarlett, whose twin, Alfie, had died aged eight months.

The court heard that Cox, who had handed in her notice in September last year because she had problems getting on with chef Patricia Edwards, had initially put excessive salt in Ms Gold's meal. A few days later she added too much sugar, which the Ann Summers chief executive was not supposed to eat for medical reasons.

On 5 October, she laced two bowls of asparagus soup with screen-wash then took to Ms Gold for lunch. The substance contained chemicals which, the court heard, could have "serious toxic side-effects" if ingested, as well as causing nausea, gastrointestinal problems and even heart failure.

Ms Davies said: "Ms Gold took one mouthful, and in her words, instantly knew there was a chemical in her soup and was very strong."

When pressed, Cox, who has one child, admitted administering the substances to Ms Gold's food on the three occasions because she "hated Pat". She was arrested the day after the last incident and told police: "I didn't mean to poison her. I just thought it would smell funny or taste funny and ruin her lunch."

Tim Leete, for the defence, said the attack was not premeditated because Cox had not known she would be asked to take the soup to Ms Gold, and the screen-wash "was simply something that she happened to have in her car that day".

The court heard that Cox had initially complained about the level of media interest in the case, but had then appeared on daytime television on the morning of her sentencing. In an interview on ITV's Daybreak, she said: "I'm deeply, deeply sorry. I will never be able to work with children again. It haunts me every single day." Cox, who had been fired immediately, has since written two emails to Ms Gold apologising and expressing regret for what she had done, the court heard.

Judge Critchlow said she was unlikely to get another job as a nanny, adding: "You were employed from September 2009 as a nanny for this family and in the course of your duty you were trusted to care for the daughter of your employer, the surviving twin. And you knew that in January 2010 the other twin had died and the distress that caused to your employer, no doubt.

"You say you hated that other employee and you had no intention of harming your employer. But you had no idea whether or not that screen-wash would cause harm to her or what the effect would be.

"As it was, one mouthful was taken and it was immediately realised there was something wrong with that soup. This behaviour is a gross breach of trust as well as being totally bizarre."

Two other counts of attempting to poison Ms Gold with the sugar and salt were dropped. A spokeswoman for Ms Gold said she would be making no comment on the matter.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Joe Cocker performing on the Stravinski hall stage during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002
musicHe 'turned my song into an anthem', says former Beatle
News
Clarke Carlisle
sport
Sport
footballStoke City vs Chelsea match report
Arts and Entertainment
theatreThe US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
News
Coca-Cola has become one of the largest companies in the world to push staff towards switching off their voicemails, in a move intended to streamline operations and boost productivity
peopleCoca-Cola staff urged to switch it off to boost productivity
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there