Darren Burke, 43, tried to serve Laura Slade, his sweetheart of five years, a glass of orange juice after she told him she was pregnant and planning to keep the baby in December 2020
(Image: Humphrey Nemar)
A married Interior Ministry boss who spiked his pregnant lover’s drink with abortion drugs has been sentenced to three years and nine months in prison.
Darren Burke, 43, tried to serve Laura Slade, his sweetheart of five years, a glass of orange juice after she told him she was pregnant and planning to keep the baby in December 2020.
Ms Slade, who became suspicious and refused to drink it, called police and traces of mifepristone, a prescribed drug used to cause abortions in the early stages of pregnancy, were found.
The day before the incident, Burke wrote to Ms Slade asking if he could come in and bring her a “Starbucks latte or a tea,” which a judge said made the decision to poke her.
Burke, who was fired from his role as assistant director of the Home Office’s emergency services mobile communications program, was convicted by a jury of unlawfully administering a poison to cause a miscarriage.
Sentencing him at Isleworth Crown Court today (Thursday), Judge Alastair Hammerton said: ‘Your acts of offering to stop by and bring a coffee are examples of your planning. In addition, your offense constitutes a breach of the confidence that Ms. Slade has placed in you. And besides, you committed this crime at Mis Slade’s own home.
“Furthermore, your betrayal of the trust placed in you by Ms. Slade has affected Ms. Slade’s ability to trust others.”
In a statement about the impact of the sacrifice, Ms Slade said it made her “sick” to think about what could have happened if she had drunk the juice.
Prosecutor Paul Jarvis said: “She started PTSD therapy in May 2021 to cope with the betrayal she felt. She talks about how this experience completely changed the way she approaches people.
“She has a hard time trusting people. She tries to think ahead about her future, whether she might be ready for a relationship with someone else at some point, and has a hard time imagining that.
“She trusted him and feels like he let her down massively. She feels like she’s lost her best friend and won’t get over what he did to her.”
Isleworth Crown Court jurors heard Ms Slade, a single mother of two, tell Burke she was pregnant in November 2020 and that there had been “extensive contact” via WhatsApp.
Burke, from Windsor, Berkshire, WhatsApped Ms Slade a link to a local abortion clinic and told her: “Babies, I understand it’s your body but you can’t keep it.
“It will be everyone, your children, my wife, your family, everyone. That’s bigger than you and me. I beg you.”
A week later, Ms Slade went for a scan and told Burke she was keeping the baby, leading to a “bitter” conversation on WhatsApp in which he said he didn’t feel she took his views into account.
On December 3, Burke texted Ms. Slade and asked if he could come by the next day and bring her a “Starbucks latte or tea.”
When he arrived he offered her a cup of tea, which she declined, but he went into the kitchen and took away a glass of water, which she was drinking.
He came back with the water and a glass of orange juice mixed with water.
Ms Slade said she turned it down because she felt nauseous in the morning, saying in her statement: “I had a gut feeling something was wrong, I can’t explain why I had that gut feeling.
“He was overly cheerful and interested, trying to converse.
“He was very nervous walking back and forth between the living room and the kitchen, so he offered me a drink again.”
The court heard before leaving, Burke asked again if she would drink the orange juice before taking it away.
Ms Slade said after he left she saw the glass in the sink and noticed “white specks” around the rim that looked like washing powder.
She said: “I looked into the ground and I could see everything below. I stuck my finger in and rubbed it together and it definitely had granules in it.”
The court heard that she texted Burke asking if he had put anything in her drink, to which he replied: “F*** off. I mixed your water with juice.”
In his evidence, the father of one child said he had the pill with him and would throw it in Ms Slade’s bin but was concerned her children or dog might find it.
He said: “I took one of the jars that was there and used it to crush some of the big pills and washed it around with the cup.”
The court heard Burke admitted buying the drugs online for £200, but police were unable to trace the order as he deleted his entire search history.
Judge Hammerton said this was an example of Burke’s attempts to “cover up or conceal evidence”.
Defending Burke, David Spens QC said his client had already been fined as he lost his “extremely well paid job” at the Home Office and forced his family to relocate.
He said: “His actions have had an impact not only on Ms Slade but also on those close to him. Luckily his wife forgave him.
“He was suffering from depression at the time. This rather contributes to the pathetic nature of his behavior that day. It’s a combination of a layoff due to the pandemic and a series of personal family issues.”
But Judge Hammerton said: “Contrary to what your counsel has said, I do not consider your attempt to administer mifepristone to be amateurish or pathetic.”
The court heard Ms Slade suffered a miscarriage a few weeks later, but it was unrelated to the incident.
Another charge of supplying poison to cause a miscarriage was ordered to sit on the record.
Burke was also restrained by a restraining order from contacting Ms. Slade.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/breaking-married-home-office-boss-27254449 Married Home Office boss who spiked pregnant lover's drink with abortion drugs jailed