ACCUSED OF MURDER: Former nurse Megan Jean Haines is accused of murdering two residents at a Ballina nursing home. Photo contributed
ACCUSED OF MURDER: Former nurse Megan Jean Haines is accused of murdering two residents at a Ballina nursing home. Photo contributed

Accused killer revealed how to kill 'without leaving mark'

ACCUSED Ballina nursing home murderer Megan Haines had a 2009 conversation with her then boyfriend about how to kill someone undetected with an insulin injection, the Lismore Supreme Court has heard.

Haines, 49, is on trial for the alleged murders of Isabella Spencer, 77, and Marie Darragh, 82, while she was working as a nurse at the St Andrews aged care facility in May 2014.

In his opening address, crown prosecutor Brendan Campbell told the jury they would hear details of a conversation in 2009 between Haines and her former partner while they were watching a fictional "CSI like" crime show on television.

In response to the show's plot, Haines told her boyfriend she knew how to kill a person without being detected, Mr Campbell told the jury.

"It's easy... insulin, inject them with insulin," Haines had said.

Asked by her boyfriend how it would remain undetected, she said "because the body continues to metabolise insulin so it looks like natural causes".

"If you are good at injections, it won't even leave a mark," she said.

Earlier Mr Campbell told the jury that both Isabella Spencer and Marie Darragh were the objects of "targeted" killings by Haines because they had made complaints about her.

The night of their deaths was the sixth unsupervised shift by Haines at the facility since she began working at St Andrews just six weeks prior.

The court heard that Ms Darragh had complained during the week prior to her death that when she asked Ms Haines for some cream to alleviate a persistent itchiness, she was told to "cover up, you look disgusting" and refused the medication.

Isabella Spencer had asked Ms Haines to go to the toilet during the night but the court heard she was told to "piss in her pad".

At the start of her night shift on May 9 Haines was informed by the St Andrews director of care Wendy Turner of the two complaints, and an additional complaint from another resident.

Mr Campbell told the jury that the Crown would show the complaints sparked the murders because the consequences of adverse findings against Haines would be "very dire" for her career.

Since emigrating from South Africa to Australia in December 2000, Haines had already been the subject of several complaints while working at three hospitals in Victoria.

She had been suspended in February 2008 for more than year by the Nurses Board of Victoria, and remained unregistered as a nurse until February 2012.

As a result when she started working at St Andrews in April 2014, she was subject to six-monthly reviews by her supervisor as a condition of her registration.

On the night of May 9, Ms Turner informed Haines about the complaints and told her not to attend Ms Darragh or the third complainant without another staff member present.

Ms Darragh and Ms Spencer were found unresponsive in their beds at 7am the next morning when staff members went to wake them.

They never regained consciousness.

Toxicology reports later showed that the cause of death was externally administered insulin injection.

The court heard that only Haines had access to the locked medicine room where the insulin was kept - insulin that was later found to be missing.

The court also heard that in the week after the deaths, tapped phone conversations by police recorded Ms Haines telling a friend the women were killed by the "wrong medication", even though the results of toxicology reports were still not finished. 

In response to the Crown, Haines defence barrister Troy Edwards said Haines was not on trial for being "insensitive to residents... a bad nurse, or even being a bad person", but two counts of murder.

He cautioned the jury not to be prejudiced by Haines' nursing record, saying many of the facts would not disputed. 

"It is your job to put these prejudices aside and decide beyond reasonable doubt," he said.

The eight week trial, presided by Supreme Court Justice Peter Garling, is expected to hear from more than 70 witnesses, including police, St Andrews staff, and medical experts.

It continues in Lismore today.



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