Tears in the dock as nurse is sent for trial

More cases may emerge after Manchester coroner reviews all recent deaths at Stockport hospital

A nurse appeared in court yesterday in connection with the deaths of five patients at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport. Rebecca Leighton, 27, was remanded in custody at a hearing at Manchester Magistrates' Court. She spoke only to confirm her name, date of birth and address.

The nurse, from Heaviley, Stockport, faces three charges of criminal damage intending to endanger life, three charges of criminal damage being reckless as to whether life would be endangered, and one charge of theft.

Ms Leighton wept in the dock and had to keep taking deep breaths to maintain her composure as the magistrates ordered her case to be sent for trial at Manchester Crown Court.

Nazir Afzal, chief crown prosecutor for CPS North West, said: "We have considered the evidence that the police have referred to us at this stage of their investigations into the unexplained deaths of five patients at Stepping Hill Hospital. We have now decided that there is sufficient evidence to charge Rebecca Leighton.

"These are serious charges that relate to allegations that Rebecca Leighton tampered with medical products, saline ampoules and saline bags in Stepping Hill Hospital and by doing so endangered the lives of patients."

The maximum sentence for the criminal damage charges is life imprisonment.

Greater Manchester Police stressed yesterday that the deaths were being treated as suspicious and that the official cause of death of the victims was not yet known.

Staff across NHS Stockport had keys to medicine cupboards taken from them as they returned to work earlier this week, with entry to hospitals monitored by security guards.

A trust source said: "It's been an awful atmosphere this week. We have all had to sign in with an ID badge every time we enter the buildings. It's as if we are being penalised for everything that has happened. It's horrendous. Patients feel on edge at the moment."

Dozens more deaths may have to be investigated by detectives. John Pollard, the South Manchester coroner, is understood to be reviewing all deaths at the hospital since 7 July.

Fears were raised last week when at least 14 patients on wards A1 to A3 were reported to have "unexplained" low blood sugar levels.

Tracey Arden, 44, of Heavily, who suffered from multiple sclerosis, died on 7 July; retired photographer Arnold Lancaster, 71, of Romiley, died on 11 July; George Keep, 84, of Cheadle, who had lung cancer, died on 14 July after being admitted with a broken hip; and on the same day, Vera Pearson, 84, also died.

Derek Weaver, 83, from Stockport, died on Thursday after suffering a hypoglycaemic episode on 11 July. He was admitted the day before with breathing problems. A man in his 40s remains "very poorly" in a critical care unit at the hospital.

News
Alan Bennett has criticised the “repellent” reality shows which dominate our screens
tvBut he does like Stewart Lee
Life and Style
The Google Doodle celebrating the start of the first day of autumn, 2014.
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
i100
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
News
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Life and Style
food + drink
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits