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Woman laced colleagues’ coffee with Viagra, court told | UK news


A woman mixed ground-up Viagra tablets into instant coffee in an attempt to poison her colleagues, a court has heard.

Karen Beale, 62, was employed as a cleaner at Envirograf, a factory that makes fire protection products in Dover, when she was filmed allegedly tampering with a jar of Nescafé, Canterbury crown court was told at the start of her trial.

The camera was set up after complaints about the coffee she was making, the jury heard. These included a strange taste, blue and white specks and a slurry.

In the footage, Beale could be seen wearing latex gloves to shake the coffee jar. After police were alerted, officers found two coffee jars containing sildenafil – an erectile dysfunction treatment sold under the brand name Viagra – and a medication for high cholesterol.

“Not what you would expect to be in Nescafé,” the prosecutor Matthew Hodgetts told the court.

The contaminated jars were found in the offices of two of Beale’s female colleagues: Katrina Gravenor, the firm’s accountant, and the company secretary, Jean Smith.

Beale, who had worked at the company for seven years, denies two charges of attempting to administer a poison or other destructive or noxious thing with intent to injure, aggrieve or annoy between July 2017 and September 2018. She told police she was the victim of malicious allegations and that she had been inspecting the coffee in the covert footage, the court heard.

It was also told that her husband and daughter had previously worked for the company.

Hodgetts said none of the chemicals found were toxic, but he alleged Beale still intended to harm her colleagues.

He told the jury: “She was intending that there would be some effect on those two women by putting it in their coffee. That’s why the prosecution say she was attempting to poison.”

He added: “She denies placing or attempting to place any substance into those coffee jars and is possibly going to suggest that these allegations against her are malicious in nature.”

The jury heard that Gravenor installed the secret camera after she became suspicious at the sight and taste of her coffee.

By the time the footage of Beale was captured in September 2018, it is alleged she had already tampered with the granules. “The defendant had already put something in and was checking it was still there,” Hodgetts said.

The court heard Gravenor, who had rheumatoid arthritis, wrote a letter to her GP complaining that something was making her ill and she had “narrowed it down” to the coffee.

Beale told the court she had been asked to keep an eye on the coffee jar by the firm’s general manager, Paul Ackerman-Mond. When challenged as to why she had not told police of his instructions when arrested, Beale told the court she feared reprisals from him on her return to work.

She denied having any grievances with Gravenor and Smith.

The trial continues.



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