Nursing home carer 'heard moaning' before residents died
FORMER St Andrew's nursing home care service employee Marlene Ridgeway has testified she first met accused double-murderer Megan Jean Haines the night before two elderly residents died.
The Sydney Supreme Court trial heard Ms Ridgeway was on her first shift back from holidays when Ms Haines allegedly administered fatal insulin doses to 82-year-old Marie Darragh and Isabella Spencer, 77, in May 2014.
Ms Ridgeway said she attended to Ms Darragh about 11pm after receiving a call to help her with an itch, and gave her some cream to apply.
"After she used the cream I asked her if she was okay and she said, 'Yes, I'm fine'," Ms Ridgeway testified.
Ms Ridgeway said she left the Dianella ward, where Ms Darragh and Ms Spencer resided, about 11.30pm after Ms Haines - the only registered nurse on duty - returned from a staff change-over at the Boronia ward.
Ms Ridgeway told the court she heard a noise and went to investigate upon later returning to start her rounds in the Dianella ward.
"Before we commenced the first round, I heard moaning coming from Marie Darragh's room," she said.
"Marie was lying on her right side and she had a pillow that she used to cuddle up to, and she was making noises.
"I called her name out about five or six times, because I didn't want to startle her."
Ms Ridgeway said Ms Haines was behind her saying, "Shh, Marie".
She testified Ms Darragh did not stir and, despite never having heard her make those noises before, she believed she was having a bad dream.
Ms Ridgeway said she returned to her rounds and later, leaving one room, saw Ms Haines exiting Ms Spencer's room.
Ms Haines told her "Izzy's all right" so she did not check on her, Ms Ridgeway said.
She said she also bypassed Ms Darragh's room because "Marie always had a call bell - if she needed assistance she would ring".
Ms Ridgeway said she did not check on Marjorie Patterson, who along with Ms Darragh and Ms Spencer had made a formal complaint about Ms Haines, because the resident would get angry if woken up.
"If she needed assistance, she would ring the call bell," she said.
Ms Ridgeway said she got a chance to sit down in the nurses' station for a conversation with Ms Haines about 2.20am.
"She said that she had only been there a week and that she already had two complaints against her," Ms Ridgeway said.
"I said I could understand (Marjorie) Patterson making a complaint but not Marie Darragh.
"That she had to get to know the residents because each resident was different, had their own different ways.
"She said that she had to front the director and the deputy director, and I said, 'You might just get a reprimand'."
Ms Ridgeway said she went about her rounds on what seemed like a "relatively quiet night".
She said she returned to the Boronia ward about 4am and finished about 4.50am, during which time Ms Haines was alone in the ward where the two women later died.
Ms Haines again told her "Izzy's okay" so she did not check on Ms Spencer again, Ms Ridgeway said.
She said she saw police in the nursing home when she returned to work the following day and was told Ms Spencer and Ms Darragh had died.
The 12-juror trial has previously heard the women were "blue-ish in colour" with shallow, laboured breathing in the moments before their deaths.
The trial continues.