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'Devil' nurse jailed for 35 years

Published 19/05/2015

Nurse Victorino Chua was found guilty of murdering and poisoning hospital patients (Greater Manchester Police/PA)
Nurse Victorino Chua was found guilty of murdering and poisoning hospital patients (Greater Manchester Police/PA)

"Devil" nurse Victorino Chua was tonight beginning a minimum 35 years behind bars after his random poisoning spree "left it to fate" which patients would live or die, a court heard.

Described as a narcissistic psychopath by police, Chua, 49, sat impassively in the dock as he was sentenced for two murders and 20 other poisonings, showing not a flicker of emotion as he was told he would be in his 80s before he can apply for parole.

Relatives of his victims sat in grim faced silence in the public gallery at Manchester Crown Court as Mr Justice Openshaw recounted the pain, suffering and fear left in the defendant's wake.

The judge described his actions as "indescribably wicked" as the father-of-two secretly injected insulin into saline bags and ampoules then used unwittingly by other nurses at Stepping Hill Hospital, Stockport.

Mr Justice Openshaw said it was a "strikingly sinister and truly wicked feature of the case" Chua did not know who would fall victim to his actions.

"It is as if he left it to fate to decide who would be the victim."

He added: "He has committed a dreadful crime and he must now pay the price."

Chua received 25 life sentences in total and will be aged 84 before his 35-year minimum term expires and he is eligible for parole.

Lynda Bleasdale, the sister of murder victim Derek Weaver, 83, said: "We are delighted with the verdict and the result.

"I think he's so evil. So evil. Diabolical acts of...he obviously enjoyed seeing people suffer. He just had this urge to hurt. It's been a dreadful, dreadful, lengthy experience."

Gary Arden, whose sister Tracey, 44, was murdered by Chua, said: "Today marks the end of a really difficult four-year period for all the families but in particular my parents and Tracey's daughters."

Asked how he felt about his sister's killer, Mr Arden replied: "Surprisingly nothing. He's been sentenced and the important thing is he's not able to do this to anybody else."

Detective Superintendent Simon Barraclough, who led the investigation for Greater Manchester Police, said: "He's consistently failed to show any form of emotion during this process and any form of remorse for what he's done.

"And in fact even through the lengthy process of sentencing this morning, there was not a flicker of emotion on his face apart from what appeared to be a general contempt for all the proceedings on going."

Since his arrest serious doubts have been raised over the validity of Chua's nursing qualifications from his native Philippines and the vetting process for nurses when he came to the UK in 2002.

Mr Barraclough said: "My view is, there is one person responsible for these crimes and that is Victorino Chua.

"Whatever other complications have arisen around this, whatever we have found in our investigation, it doesn't alter the fact that it is Victorino Chua who has committed these offences and nobody else."

Chaos and panic followed in his wake with 21 patients suffering sudden illness that left hospital staff in turmoil and police on the brink of closing the hospital for the sake of patient safety in July 2011.

Ms Arden and Mr Weaver, suffered agonising deaths and a third, Grant Misell, 41, was left brain damaged as the insulin overdoses starved the victims' brains of oxygen.

Chua was cleared of a third murder, of Arnold Lancaster, 71, who had terminal cancer, but found guilty of attempting to cause him grievous bodily harm, an act described as "indescribably wicked to cause a dying man to be poisoned with insulin".

Other elderly victims had their lives blighted or were "never the same again," their loved ones said in victim impact statements.

After police were called in, Chua "changed tack" by sabotaging prescription charts, doubling and trebling dosages - some with potentially lethal consequences.

Among the evidence produced by the prosecution was a self-penned letter found at Chua's home in Stockport after his arrest in January 2012.

In it, described as "the bitter nurse confession" by Chua, he said he was "an angel turned into an evil person" and "there's a devil in me". He also wrote of having things he would "take to the grave".

In all, Chua was convicted of two murders, 22 counts of attempted grievous bodily harm, one count of grievous bodily harm, seven attempts of administering poison and one count of administering poison, following a four month trial.

In a statement Stockport NHS Foundation Trust said: "Our thoughts have been with the victims and their families throughout this time.

"We know they have suffered great distress, but hope this sentence helps provide some closure for them in terms of seeing that justice has been served."

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