Vic 'murder' victim died from horrific genital injury, inquest is told as medic remains on bail

A stroke unit patient at Blackpool Victoria Hospital died from bleeding caused by a vaginal injury, an inquest was told.

Tuesday, 11th May 2021, 9:53 am
Updated Tuesday, 11th May 2021, 10:24 am
Valerie Kneale, 75, died from bleeding caused by a sex assault, her inquest was told
Valerie Kneale, 75, died from bleeding caused by a sex assault, her inquest was told

Valerie Kneale, 75, was admitted to hospital after a stroke and, after breaking her leg when falling out a chair, died four days later.

Resort coroner Alan Wilson told the inquest: “Concerns had been raised about a potential injury around the genital area” and said that, while a post-mortem examination revealed Mrs Kneale had suffered a serious stroke, it did not kill her.

“[The pathologist] said that was due to an internal and external haemorrhage which was in turn due to a vaginal laceration or tear.”

The inquest was adjourned while detectives continue to investigation, having in March arrested a medic – suspended by hospital bosses – on suspicion of murdering Mrs Kneale, two rapes, and a sex attack on a colleague.

He was later bailed, and then re-bailed until Thursday, June 3.

The injuries on Mrs Kneale’s body were found while autopsies were being carried out as part of a long-running poison plot probe, which was launched in November 2018 after a whistle-blower raised the alarm.

Eight potential victims – feared to have been given prescription-only drugs to keep them heavily sedated at night – have been found, with seven medics quizzed and released under investigation.

The drug, Zopiclone, is widely used and, when used properly, is perfectly safe.

A “number” of post-mortems were carried out, police said, though the force has remained largely tight-lipped throughout the investigation.

One daughter, who was told to cancel her dad’s funeral so tests could be done, said: “I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.”

Mrs Kneale died on November 16, 2018, with her death declared suspicious by murder squad detectives the following February.

Police said she had died from bleeding “caused by a non-medical-related internal injury”.

“We as a family are completely and utterly devastated and heartbroken,” Mrs Kneale’s loved ones, who did not attend the inquest, said in a past statement. “Val was the most precious wife, mother, and grandmother.”

Mr Wilson said: “It is clearly necessary for this court to further adjourn the investigation ... in order to allow the police to continue with their investigations.”

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