Aged-care nurse Megan Haines, pictured, learned of two complaints against her by elderly patients the night before they were found dead.
Shanghai night field

Aged-care nurse Megan Haines, pictured, learned of two complaints against her by elderly patients the night before they were found dead.

Aged-care nurse Megan Haines, pictured, learned of two complaints against her by elderly patients the night before they were found dead.

Aged-care nurse Megan Haines, pictured, learned of two complaints against her by elderly patients the night before they were found dead.

An aged-care nurse accused of murdering two elderly patients just hours after discovering they had made complaints against her has been refused bail.

On Thursday Supreme Court Justice Geoffrey Bellew said the circumstantial case against Megan Jean Haines was strong, despite a lack of forensic evidence linking her to the womens’ deaths.

During a bail application the court heard that at the start of her night shift on May 9, last year, Ms Haines, 47, was told two complaints had been made and a third was pending by three residents of St Andrew’s Village aged care home in Ballina, on the north coast.

In the morning on May 10, two of those residents – Marie Darragh, 82, and Isobella Spencer, 77 – were found unconscious in their beds. Both women had advanced care directives against resuscitation and died in Ballina hospital.

The prosecution claims Ms Haines, who was the only nurse on duty and the only staff member with access to the medication stores that night, injected the women with insulin, causing fatal hypoglycaemia.

A third woman, Marjorie Patterson, 88, survived because she woke as Ms Haines allegedly tried to inject her with an unscheduled and unnecessary dose, the Crown says.

In applying for bail Ms Haines’s lawyer, Michael Blair, said the prosecution case was “just above speculative” as there is no forensic evidence linking Ms Haines to the crime.

“There are no witnesses, no CCTV, no swipe card records, no fingerprints, no DNA, no murder weapon, no insulin register,” he said.

“It is impossible to tell when the insulin was administered and how much.”

Mr Blair said Ms Haines immigrated to Australia from South Africa in 2001 and had no criminal record. Since her arrest her registration as a nurse has been suspended, meaning she has no chance of re-offending if granted bail.

He denied Ms Haines was motivated by financial gain.

“There is nothing to show the applicant was going to gain one cent from their deaths,” Mr Blair said.

In opposing bail, Crown prosecutor Rebecca Gray said Ms Haines had the “means, the motive and the opportunity” to murder the two women.

She had only recently regained her nursing registration and worked at the home for just two months when the director of nursing informed her of the three complaints.

Ms Darragh alleged Ms Haines refused to apply cream to her genital area, saying it was “disgusting”. Ms Spencer claimed in response to asking for assistance to the toilet, Ms Haines said, “just piss in your pants”.

Ms Patterson complained of rough handling.

“The only link between the deceased is they both made complaints about Ms Haines refusing to assist them that could not be explained away,” Ms Gray said.

“In the context of her tenuous employment and how serious these complaints would have been the Crown says she did have a significant motive.”

Three days after the deaths Ms Haines resigned from her job and moved from her home in Kingscliff to Seaspray, in Victoria.

In the time between the deaths and her arrest Ms Haines’ passport was seized. Ms Gray said Ms Haines made repeated attempts to have her passport returned and was heard via a covert telephone intercept telling a friend she wanted to live in Johannesburg.

But Mr Blair said Ms Haines kept police informed of her change of address and another telephone intercept recorded her saying her life was in Australia.

Justice Geoffrey Bellew​ said although Ms Haines was unlikely to face trial until mid next year, she had not satisfied the “show cause” provisions of the recently amended bail act.

“In light of the circumstances which the Crown on the evidence before be is able to establish I’m unable to accept the submission that the prosecution case should be regarded as a weak one,” he said.

Ms Haines remain in custody and will appear in Lismore Local Court in August.

Similar Posts