Accused killer nurse 'knew alleged victim complained'

St Andrews Village nursing home in Ballina.    Photo : Mireille Merlet-Shaw/The Northern Star
St Andrews Village nursing home in Ballina. Photo : Mireille Merlet-Shaw/The Northern Star Mireille Merlet-Shaw

A NURSING home director has testified she told accused murderer Megan Jean Haines three nursing home residents had made complaints against her before two of them died.

St Andrews aged care centre director of care Wendy Turner told Sydney Supreme Court she had handed Ms Haines documents the previous night outlining two complaints against her, and had told her the names of the residents who had filed them.

The court heard four phone call recordings made the morning Marie Darragh and Isabella Spencer died in their beds in May 2014.

Ms Haines was calling Ms Turner to arrange a meeting to discuss the complaints.

"Is it normal to have so many complaints or is it just me?" Haines asked on one recording.

"I really don't know what I'm doing wrong.

"Because if someone could tell me what I'm doing wrong - speaking too much, or am I staying in the room too much, am I too rough?

"I'm not very strong, I'm only little."

Ms Turner gave evidence she told Ms Haines one of the complainants was Ms Darragh when she handed the documents over.

She said she mentioned another pending complaint but did not tell Ms Haines the resident's name.

That complaint was from Ms Spencer.

"I said, well that's why we need to meet on Tuesday so you can give your version of events," Ms Turner had said.

"I also cautioned Megan and said to her that it was very important that she not raise these matters directly with any of the complainants.

"That she should not approach them, and that if she should need to attend to them at any time of the night that she should take care staff with her."

Experts found Ms Spencer and Ms Darragh overdosed on insulin that night.

Ms Turner described her observations of both women in the moments before they died.

She said Ms Darragh was unconscious and "blueish in colour", indicating she was short of oxygen.

"Her respiratory rate was very shallow and laboured and I considered her to be very near death," she said.

Ms Turner said Ms Spencer appeared to be in a similar condition and she thought death was imminent.

The jury heard Haines made the phone calls that same day, but was not told the two women had died.

A meeting between Ms Turner and Haines went ahead at 2pm and was "conducted as if they were still alive", the court heard.

Ms Darragh's grand-daughter Shannon Ann Parkinson also gave evidence.

She said she read aloud an early mother's day card from another relative and heard Ms Darragh make a noise just moments before she died in her arms.

Ms Darragh's daughter Jan Parkinson told the court she had visited the nursing home the previous day and had watched her mother sing at a concert with other residents.

She intended to return the following day to cook her pancakes and celebrate an early Mother's Day.

The case is expected to continue for up to eight weeks.


Topics:  ballina murder nursing home trial

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