On 18 May 2015, Victorino Chua was convicted of two counts of murder, 22 counts of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm, one of causing grievous bodily harm, seven of attempting to administer a poison and one of administering a poison but was acquitted of a third count of murder.
Chua was a nurse at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport. He injected insulin into saline bags and ampoules which were then used by his colleagues on patients in the hospital, most of whom were elderly. Over a period of approximately eight months between June 2011 and January 2012, Chua poisoned patients on two wards in the hospital.
The third murder charge (resulting in an acquittal) was in relation to 81-year-old Arnold Lancaster, who was left brain damaged after Chua had administered insulin to him. The jury convicted Chua of the poisoning offence as an alternative to murder.
Part of the evidence in the case was a “confession” letter in which Chua said he was “an angel turned into an evil person” and that he had things he would “take to the grave”.
In 2011, another nurse was arrested and charged in relation to the poisoning, spending six weeks on remand before being cleared.
Following the conviction, the police said they had doubts as to Chua’s certification to practise as a nurse.
He will be sentenced at a later date.
As regular readers will know, we do like to have a guess at the likely sentence every now and again and this case is no exception. Although the facts are fairly thin on the ground, we think that there are just about enough details to allow us to take a fairly good guess.
The case featured a number of aggravating features such as the abuse of trust, the targeting of vulnerable victims, the fact that suspicion was thrown onto an innocent colleague (who was detained for some 6 weeks) and the length of time over which the activity occurred. That’s aside from the number of victims and the seriousness of the activity itself.
Taking Sch.21 – the murder starting points – as the er, starting point, we can see that the murder of two or more persons attracts the 30-year starting point. Add to that the aggravating features and an increase in that figure will be necessary. Additionally, there will need to be an increase to reflect the other – non-murder – counts, especially the case involving Mr Lancaster.
As such, we would expect a minimum term of upwards of 37 years, and a whole life order is possible (though we would expect an appeal against such a sentence).
We’ll return to the case when Chua is sentenced.