Megan Jean Haines has been sentenced in Sydney this morning.
Megan Jean Haines has been sentenced in Sydney this morning. Contributed

Killer nurse jailed for at least 27 years

UPDATE: She once boasted murdering someone without leaving a trace was "easy".

"Insulin. Just inject them with insulin," she told a friend in 2009.

"The body continues to metabolise the insulin so it looks like natural causes.

"If you are good at injections, it won't even leave a mark."

It was true. No mark was found on the bodies of Ballina nursing home residents Marie Darragh, 82, and Isabella Spencer, 77.

But former registered nurse Megan Jean Haines, 49, made a glaring mistake when she injected both elderly women with fatal insulin overdoses on the same night, just hours after they had made complaints against her.

Staff originally thought the women had suffered heart attack or stroke, but the timing was suspicious.

Marie Darragh was murdered in her nursing home bed in 2014.
Marie Darragh was murdered in her nursing home bed in 2014. Contributed

Subsequent blood tests revealed both had elevated levels of insulin which sent them into hyperglycaemic shock, coma and then death.

Haines betrayed no emotion as she was sentenced to at least 27 years in prison for murdering the two women in an attempt to avoid losing her job for her misconduct as a nurse.

Her face remained set and she did not utter a word as she was ushered from the Sydney Supreme Court.

A jury found the former St Andrew's aged care centre worker guilty in November of murdering the women in May 2014.

Outside Sydney Supreme Court on the trial's third day are (from left) Marie Darragh's granddaughter Shannon Parkinson and daughters Janet Parkinson and Charli Darragh.
Outside Sydney Supreme Court on the trial's third day are (from left) Marie Darragh's granddaughter Shannon Parkinson and daughters Janet Parkinson and Charli Darragh. Chris Calcino

Justice Peter Garling on Friday called her conduct "almost too awful to contemplate" and handed down a maximum 36-year jail sentence.

He said the women were two of three residents who had made official complaints against Haines for refusing to provide them care and being rough and verbally abusive.

Haines was the only registered nurse on duty when they were killed, and the only person in the building with access to the medication rooms.

She took two vials, filled a syringe, went to each of the women's rooms and injected them.

Isabella Spencer slept while nurse Megan Jean Haines administered her with a fatal dose of insulin.
Isabella Spencer slept while nurse Megan Jean Haines administered her with a fatal dose of insulin. Contributed

Twice she told care staff doing their rounds not to worry about checking on Ms Spencer.

Neither Ms Darragh nor Ms Spencer had diabetes, and neither had been prescribed insulin.

Both women were found in comatose states with very faint pulses shortly after Haines finished her night shift.

They died in their beds.

"The conduct was deliberate and calculated, it was a gross abuse of trust and a flagrant abuse of her power," Justice Garling said.

"She thought that the deaths would appear to be from natural courses."

Donald Spencer with a photo of his late sister, Isabella.
Donald Spencer with a photo of his late sister, Isabella. Graham Broadhead

The murders "required a clear intention to kill them, required her to engage in a series of deliberate and calculated steps", Justice Garling added.

Over the course of the trial, the jury heard the South African-born woman had a history of receiving complaints from patients since she began working as a registered nurse in Australia in 2001.

She was still on probation when she committed the murders, with strict reporting conditions to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency for her prior professional misconduct.

Justice Garling rejected Haines' claim of innocence, noting "her memory was selective".

"She was an unpersuasive witness who gave convenient answers when pressed," he said.

He said she had completely abrogated nursing's caring tenets, and her behaviour needed to be denounced and deterred.

Police searched Haines's house a few days after the women were killed, telling her they were investigating two unexpected and suspicious deaths.

Charli Darragh at the grave site of her mother, Marie Darragh.
Charli Darragh at the grave site of her mother, Marie Darragh.

They did not mention how the deaths occurred.

In an intercepted phone call with a friend, Haines was recorded telling him they had died because they had been administered the wrong medication.

"I am satisfied that the offender knew that this was the cause of death not because she inferred it from what the police had said, but rather because she knew what she had done," Justice Garling said.

She had little chance of rehabilitation, had shown no remorse, and there was no evidence she suffered from any psychological issues, Justice Garling found.

Haines has been in custody since she was arrested in Victoria in July 2014 and extradited to New South Wales.

She will be eligible for parole on July 6, 2041, taking into account the time she has already served.

She will be 74 years old before she has a chance at freedom.

ARM NEWSDESK

10.34am: A Ballina nurse who once boasted she knew how to kill someone without being caught has been jailed for at least 27 years for murdering two elderly aged care home residents.

Megan Jean Haines, a former St Andrew's aged care centre registered nurse was found guilty in November of murdering Marie Darragh, 82, and Isabella Spencer, 77, in May 2014.

Justice Peter Garling found her conduct was "almost too awful to contemplate" and showed a complete lack of respect for human life.

He sentenced her to a maximum 36 years in jail.

Both women had made complaints against Haines the day before they were killed.

Haines entered their rooms while they slept and injected them with fatal insulin doses.

"The conduct was deliberate and calculated it was a gross abuse of trust and a flagrant abuse of her power," Justice Garling said.

"She thought that the deaths would appear to be from natural causes."

Injecting the women with insulin "required a clear intention to kill them, required her to engage in a series of deliberate and calculated steps", Justice Garling added.

Over the course of the trial, the jury heard the South African woman had a history of receiving complaints from patients since she began working as a registered nurse in Australia in 2001.

She was still on probation when she murdered the women, with strict reporting conditions to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency.

Ms Darragh and Ms Spencer were found in comatose states with very faint pulses shortly after Haines finished her night shift.

She was the only registered nurse on duty on the night the women died.

Staff originally thought the women had suffered heart attack or stroke, but subsequent blood tests revealed they both had elevated levels of insulin which sent them into hyperglycaemic shock, coma and then death.

Neither woman had diabetes, nor were they prescribed insulin.

Haines will be eligible for parole on July 6, 2041, given the time she has already spent in custody.

ARM NEWSDESK



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