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Ballina nurse guilty of murdering patients

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Ex-nurse Megan Haines has been found guilty of killing two patients at a retirement village in Ballina two years ago. (file pic)
Ex-nurse Megan Haines has been found guilty of killing two patients at a retirement village in Ballina two years ago. (file pic)

Two-and-a-half-years after killing two elderly women in their retirement village beds by injecting them with insulin, ex-nurse Megan Haines has been found guilty of their murder.

It took four hours on Thursday for a NSW Supreme Court jury to return the verdict that Haines killed Marie Darragh, 82, and Isabella Spencer, 77, by administering insulin to them in the middle of the night in May 2014 in Ballina.

Haines pleaded not guilty, and under cross-examination on Monday she said she “did not inject anyone” at Ballina’s St Andrews Village.

The court heard Ms Spencer had complained that Haines had refused to help her reach the toilet, while Ms Darragh said the nurse refused to give her a cream to soothe an itch.

Haines’ registration had already been conditional following a previous suspension, crown prosecutor Brendan Campbell previously told the court, and further complaints were potentially catastrophic.

‘So what did the accused do? In my submission she tried to eliminate the cause,’ he said.

A former boyfriend also testified that in 2009 while watching a crime show Haines said an insulin injection was a way to kill someone without being detected.

But her defence lawyer Troy Edwards had argued Haines was not the only one with access to the insulin and if she had been motivated to kill over complaints, why would she have not murdered the third woman who also complained about her.

‘You have no explanation, I suggest, as to why the accused did not kill Marjorie Patterson,’ Mr Edwards told the jury.

‘I suggest to you, you would be far from satisfied that the accused was the only person with access to insulin.’

Haines appeared unemotional as the guilty verdict was read out.

‘Today’s guilty verdict in the murder of two of our former residents is an important step in the healing process for our victims’ families,’ St Andrews chief executive Phillip Carter said outside court.

‘Our thoughts and prayers are with the Darragh and Spencer families who have had to endure pain and grief of losing loved ones in distressing circumstances and the subsequent burden of a trial,’ he said.

Justice Peter Garling adjourned the matter to allow psychological assessment of Haines before sentencing on December 7.

Justice Garling also ordered a video link be made available during sentencing to allow the family of the victims to watch the proceedings from Lismore.

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