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Nursing home murders: Another assault confirmed

FRONTING THE MEDIA: Pip Carter, CEO of St Andrews village in Ballina, addresses the national media over the police investigation of two deaths at the nursing home.
FRONTING THE MEDIA: Pip Carter, CEO of St Andrews village in Ballina, addresses the national media over the police investigation of two deaths at the nursing home. Doug Eaton

ON THE same night two elderly women were murdered at Ballina's St Andrews Nursing Home an even older resident was lucky to survive an assault.

A State Crime Command spokesman said an 88-year-old woman who was assaulted at the nursing home on May 10, was assisting detectives attached to Strike Force Odimi with their enquiries.

Marie Darragh, 77, and 82-year-old Isobella Spencer were both found unconscious in their beds on the same day.

They were pronounced deceased by paramedics and police launched an investigation.

St Andrews Nursing Home CEO Pip Carter yesterday confirmed a female resident of the home was "briefly admitted to hospital about the same time" as the women died.

Mr Carter said the resident had since returned to live at St Andrews. Police believe a nursing home staff member could be the killer and they are looking closely at the actions of staff on the night.

The state Crime Command spokesman said police were awaiting the results of further forensic testing to determine the cause of their death. The forensic testing is believed to be to determine if the women died as a result of medication they were given.

"Police would be looking to lay charges of the deaths of the two women and the assault," the spokesman said.

 

Third person assaulted?

CEO of St Andrew's Village aged-care facility in Ballina, Pip Carter, wouldn't confirm if a third person had been assaulted at the nursing home last month.

He was speaking after it was announced that the unexpected deaths of two women at the home in May were being treated as suspicious by police.

Mr Carter also would not confirm if any staff member under suspicion was still employed at the home.

"This is a police investigation," he said repeatedly to questioning.

He said he could "assure" the community that incidents like these would not happen again.

But he would not expand on how that assurance could be made, except in saying the police backed up that assurance.

On May 10, nursing home staff called police and paramedics after finding the two women, Isobella Spencer, 77, and Marie Darragh, 82, unconscious in their beds.

Mr Carter said staff and residents at the home have been "deeply distressed" by the two deaths, and the subsequent speculation in the community about the incidents.

He said, in a nursing home, staff were able to identify those who were nearing death, and the deaths of the two women were reported to police because they were "unexpected".

"We wanted to do the right thing by the relatives, so we brought the police in," he said. "The relatives have been very supportive.

"We have done the right thing. We are a great organisation and I am proud of our staff and our board."

Topics:  editors picks, homicide, nursing home murders, police



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