Page last updated at 14:44 GMT, Friday, 21 May 2010 15:44 UK

Care home boss Rachel Baker jailed for killing resident

Rachel Baker arriving at court on a previous occasion
Baker was told she had lived a life of "lies, forgery and deceit"

A former care home manager who stole drugs from residents to feed her own addiction has been jailed for 10 years for killing an elderly woman.

Rachel Baker, 48, gave Lucy Cox, 97, lethal doses of medication at the Parkfields Residential Care Home, in Butleigh, Somerset.

Baker, of Boundary Way, Glastonbury, was convicted at Bristol Crown Court of her manslaughter.

She was acquitted of the manslaughter of another resident, Frances Hay, 85.

Mr Justice John Royce said she had been guilty of "an appalling breach of trust".

He said Baker had lived a life of "lies, forgery and deceit".

"She was a previously exemplary nurse, broken by her addiction to drugs".

'Bizarre and perverted'

Her trial heard that Baker gave Mrs Cox lethal doses of medication while she was abusing controlled drugs herself that she had stolen from the home.

Prosecutor David Fisher had told the jury: "She, for a variety of bizarre and perverted reasons, may have had a desire to control the terminal destiny of some of her residents."

Baker admitted 10 counts of possessing Class A and C drugs and one count of perverting the course of justice.

In her evidence, she blamed the "stress, pain and emotional turmoil" of running the home for her decision to steal the medication.

But she denied that her "diverting" of residents' drugs ever affected their care.

The judge told Baker she had taken Mrs Cox's diamorphine, which is related to heroin, for her own use and instead injected her with tramadol, a weaker substitute.

But she gave Mrs Cox too much of the drug.

'Great betrayal'

"For a nurse entrusted with her care, knowing she was not prescribed these drugs, it was a terrible thing to do," he said.

"She may have been in the winter of her days but her long life should not have ended this way."

Speaking of the residents' relatives, the judge said: "They understandably feel great betrayal and bitterness about what you did.

"Worrying about whether their nearest and dearest did indeed receive a proper level of care."

The court was told analysis of strands of Baker's hair taken from her between January and May 2007 revealed she was abusing at least eight powerful prescription drugs, including pethadine, tramadol and fentanyl.

Jurors were told supermarket carrier bags filled with leftover tablets which had not been sent back to the pharmacist were found at the home.

Rachel Baker... deliberately and dishonestly lied to, manipulated and abused the trust of others
Det Supt Trevor Simpson

The court heard Baker's abuse of drugs began with the taking of a single tramadol tablet to ease pain in her back.

Richard Smith, Baker's barrister, said it was her inability to seek help for her stress and dependence on drugs that caused the downward spiral. Before her addiction, she was simply a "good person", he said.

Speaking after the case, Claire Forsey, daughter of Marion Alder, one of the residents at the home, called for a public inquiry into care home standards.

"The most important thing is that this never ever happens again, when you have one person running the nursing home who took the sort of control that Rachel took and conned nearly everyone around her.

"There must be certain procedures that need to change for prescribing drugs - not prescribing them over the telephone, checking patients more regularly."

Det Supt Trevor Simpson said it was one of the most complex inquiries ever undertaken by Avon and Somerset Police.

"This investigation was always about the criminal actions of Rachel Baker, who deliberately and dishonestly lied to, manipulated and abused the trust of others, including fellow health care professionals, carers and most worryingly, the residents in her care."

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This is Devon 10 years for care home killer - 15 hrs ago
Daily Star 10-year term for care home managerFull Story - 19 hrs ago
Brighouse Echo 10 years for care home manager who killed resident - 30 hrs ago
Huddersfield Daily Examiner National News: Ex-care worker begins sentence - 31 hrs ago
Southport Visiter 10-year term for care home manager - 34 hrs ago

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