Nursing home murders accused given no bail

JUST hours before two women were found dead at Ballina's St Andrews Nursing Home in 2014, the nurse accused of their murder was in a meeting regarding a complaint made against her by one of the victims.

Marie Darragh, 82, and Isobella Spencer, 77, were found unconscious in their beds on the morning of May 10, the same day an 88-year-old woman was allegedly assaulted by Megan Jean Haines.

Forensic examinations of both women found they died from fatal doses of insulin.

Yesterday Lismore Local Court heard Haines, who had previously been suspended as a nurse in Victoria, was told about two of the three complaints against her, at 11.10pm on May 9.

The court heard Haines, who was still on probation when the women died, was the only person with a key to access insulin on the night.

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

In applying for her bail, Haines's solicitor Michael Blair argued police found nothing incriminating in 475 intercepted phone calls and 670 text messages.

Mr Blair argued the prosecution case was weak, Haines had a lack of prior convictions, a good background, an extremely remote risk of reoffending and she was the sole carer for her five-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter.

Omitted from police facts, Mr Blair claimed, was that a window was left open in each of the deceased women's rooms, there was no CCTV, a lightning strike on April 27 cancelled the nursing home's swipe card records and St Andrews didn't keep records of insulin use.

Despite this, Mr Blair admitted the cause of the women's deaths wasn't in question.

Mr Blair said his client would live at her property in Seaspray, Victoria, lodge $100,000 surety, surrender her passport and wouldn't seek work as a nurse if bailed.

In opposing bail, prosecutor Ms Grey argued there was a strong case against Haines, she was a flight risk, and had previously been suspended as a nurse.

"If the cause of death is not an issue then these women have been murdered," Ms Grey said. "If found guilty she's looking at two terms of life imprisonment."

When refusing bail, Magistrate David Heilpern said Haines had the opportunity, means and motive to commit the alleged offences.

"There were three persons assaulted that night; two of those assaults led to death," he said.

Haines was remanded at Sydney's Silverwater Women's Correctional Centre until her next appearance in March.

 



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