Rebecca Leighton Released As CPS Drops Charges

Charges Dropped By CPS In Stepping Hill Hospital Case

Rebecca Leighton, the nurse accused of sabotaging saline drips at the Stepping Hill hospital in Stockport, has been released from custody.

The Crown Prosecution Service said it was no longer continuing the case. Ms Leighton was expected to stand trial early next year on charges of criminal damage with intent to endanger life, following the deaths of three patients at the hospital where she worked. She has been held since 23rd July at Cheshire’s Style prison.

Police were alerted following the death of five patients. In three of the cases, investigators said there was evidence that suggested the drips had been deliberately tampered with and insulin had been administered to cause death.

Leighton, of Heavily, has been told she is free to leave.

According to Nazir Afzal, the Chief Crown Prosecutor for the North West, Leighton was charged as “there was a reasonable suspicion.” He also said there were “reasonable grounds for believing the continuing investigation would provide further evidence within a reasonable amount of time.”

He said: "When we make a decision on this basis it would be wrong of us to keep a suspect in custody indefinitely without keeping a very close eye on what evidence is emerging and whether objections to bail can be justified.

"The inquiries, which are still ongoing, have not so far provided us with a stronger case which would meet the test that there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction. This is the test all cases must meet for a prosecution to go ahead."

"We have conducted a review of the case with senior police officers and sought the advice of leading counsel on whether it would be right to keep Rebecca Leighton in custody while investigations are continuing.

"The advice we have received is that on the evidence currently available there is not a case in law which could proceed and that the charges should be discontinued.

"We have therefore this afternoon informed the prison where Rebecca Leighton is being held on remand that the case against her has been discontinued and she can be released immediately. It is right and proper for us to do this.

"As this is very much a complex investigation with lines of inquiry still being followed, there is the prospect that further evidence might emerge which the CPS would then consider alongside the evidence gathered so far. The law does allow us to reinstate charges in those circumstances, particularly where the allegations are serious."

Speaking after the decision by the CPS was announced, Terry Sweeney, the Assistant Chief Constable of Manchester Police, offered his condolences to the families of the victims, and said the investigation would continue.

"It is not appropriate for me to comment any further in relation to Rebecca Leighton or any other individual but this remains an ongoing and pro active investigation," he said.

"This investigation is without doubt one of the most complex investigations that our most senior detectives have ever worked on, comparable in size and scope to Manchester bomb inquiry"

"The scope of this investigation is extensive and we cannot rule out making other arrests in our search for the truth, and this remains as true as ever.'

A secondary charge of theft of medication belonging to the hospital has also been dropped.


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