NEWS
02/09/2011 17:23 BST | Updated 02/11/2011 05:12 GMT

Rebecca Leighton: 'I Have Been Living In Hell'

Rebecca Leighton, the nurse cleared of charges in the Stepping Hill murder case, has released a statement calling her ordeal a "living nightmare".

Read out by her lawyer, Carl Richmond, and with her parents in attendance, the 27-year-old said: "If it was not for the unerring love and support of my family, my mum Lynda, dad David and brother Darren, my fiancé Tim, and all my friends, I do not know how I would have coped.

"I would also like to thank the members of the public who have also supported me and have believed in my innocence.

"I have been living in hell and was locked up in prison for something I had not done.

"Nonetheless, I would like to take the opportunity to thank the staff at HMP Styal for their love and support.

Leighton had been accused of contaminating saline solution at the hospital in Stockport, leading to a number of deaths.

Greater Manchester Police have said they have already spoken to 200 people in connection to the case and plan to interview at least another 500 more

The police said they were potentially more than 40 victims including seven deaths.

Assistant Chief Constable Terry Sweeney, said the investigation was one of the most complex the force had ever worked on and was comparable in size and scope to the to 1996 IRA Manchester bomb inquiry.

"To prove a case you need not only to prove guilt but to eliminate the possible involvement of others. In this case our further investigation has shown that there were over 700 people who could have had access to the area concerned in a tight time period," he said.

In her statement Leighton said: "It was so frustrating for me knowing that the person who has actually carried out these terrible acts is still out there.

"My life has been turned upside down. All I ever wanted to do was to pursue a profession in nursing and to care for my patients.

"I think it is unbelievable that anyone in the medical profession would ever put patients' lives at risk.

"Finally I would like to thank my legal team, Mr Simon Csoka QC and Carl Richmond from Middleweeks Solicitors for their constant hard work in preparing my case. Their support was invaluable.

"I will not be speaking to the media tonight.

"I would ask that you all respect the right of my family and myself to privacy and allow us to get on with our lives.

"I have nothing else to say at this stage."

Her mother Lynda, who is also a nurse, added: "We just want to be left in peace now so we can get on with our lives."

On Friday the Crown Prosecution Service dropped the charges against Leighton due to a lack of evidence.

The CPS released a statement saying they had "decided that it is no longer appropriate to continue the case against Rebecca Leighton, charged with criminal damage intending to endanger life following unexplained deaths at Stepping Hill Hospital, Greater Manchester."