Public school cook cleared of poisoning soup
Thursday 07 April 2011
A kitchen porter at a £27,000-a-year public school was acquitted yesterday of trying to poison pupils by lacing their soup with cleaning fluid.
Maxwell Cook, 58, was accused of pouring drain cleaner into carrot and coriander soup that was destined for 100 pupils and staff at Stowe School in Buckinghamshire. But he was found not guilty at Aylesbury Crown Court of attempting to administer poison with intent to injure, aggrieve or annoy. He slumped back in his chair looking relieved as the verdict was given. The jury took two-and-a-half hours to acquit him.
According to prosecutors, the substance would have had a "detrimental effect" if eaten, including vomiting and swelling of the throat. Mr Cook, from Syresham, Northamptonshire, was suspended from his post after the contaminated food was discovered on 11 March last year, and will not get his job back. A spokeswoman for the school said: "The school undertook a full investigation immediately after the soup incident and in accordance with our disciplinary procedures, Maxwell Cook was dismissed for gross misconduct. The school has no intention of re-employing him."
During the trial, trainee chef Louise Samples told the court that she saw Mr Cook pour cleaning fluid into the soup, but was shocked and did not feel comfortable enough to say anything. She said: "I was still processing what had happened. As a woman on my own in the kitchen, I didn't feel comfortable to approach [Mr Cook]. I knew the chef would taste it before it was served... As a trainee I didn't feel I was in a strong enough position to approach Max at this time."
Mr Cook maintained he had walked past the soup but had only looked at it. His barrister, Henry James, asked Ms Samples whether in fact she had poisoned the soup to discredit another trainee chef with whom she was competing for a job. She denied this.
The fluid was detected during routine tasting and nobody was harmed.
Justin Bieber was one of the hardest hit
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
£35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable law firm based in central London ...
£30 per hour: Ashdown Group: An industry leading and well established business...
Negotiable: The Jenrick Group: A Controls Engineer is urgently required for a ...
£32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an an exciting opportunity to jo...