Suspect in Blackpool Victoria Hospital murder and rape investigation is bailed for a 5th time
A Blackpool Victoria Hospital health professional who was arrested on suspicion of murder and rape in March has been bailed for a fifth time.
The suspended hospital worker was arrested on March 3 and taken into custody on suspicion of murdering stroke patient Valerie Kneale in 2018.
He is also suspected of two alleged rapes and an alleged sex attack on a Vic colleague.
Since his arrest, he has been bailed five times as Lancashire Police continue to investigate the allegations against him.
Yesterday (Thursday, October 21), he was due to answer his latest bail but Lancashire Police say a further bail extension has been granted.
It is the fifth time he has been bailed since his arrest and Lancashire Police has yet to issue an update on its investigation.
Today (Friday, October 22), a spokesman for Lancashire Police told the Gazette: "He remains on bail. He is still a suspect. It’s just a case of enquiries ongoing."
When asked whether the suspect is still in the UK or has left the country, the force said: "We wouldn’t comment on an individual’s bail conditions."
Lancashire Police has declined to provide a date for when the suspect is due to answer his latest bail. He remains suspended by Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.
When bail was granted for the first time in March, Det Ch Insp Jill Johnston said the allegations against him were "complicated and sensitive" and the force was "committed to investigating thoroughly".
No further update has been provided on the investigation and an inquest into Mrs Kneale's death - which opened in March - remains adjourned whilst police continue their investigation.
Alan Wilson, coroner for Blackpool and Fylde said: "It is clearly necessary for this court to further adjourn the investigation into Mrs Kneales' death in order to allow the police to continue with their investigations.
"We ought not to hold an inquest while the police are actively pursuing their own investigation."
Why was the medic arrested?
The man was arrested by police after post-mortem examinations were conducted as part of investigations into suspected poisoning of patients on the stroke unit at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.
One of the post-mortem examinations investigated the death of Valerie Kneale, 75, from Blackpool, who had died from bleeding caused by a “non-medical-related internal injury”.
Following this, Lancashire Police launched a separate murder investigation, which it said was not linked to the ongoing investigation into allegations of poisoning and neglect.
As a result of this investigation, information related to other allegations of serious sexual assaults against two patients has been received, as well as the sexual assault of a healthcare professional working on the stroke unit.
On March 3, the healthcare professional was arrested on suspicion of murder, two offences of rape and one offence of sexual assault.
He was initially bailed to March 31 before bail was extended to June 3 and again to September 3, 2021.
He was again bailed until October 21 and has now been been bailed for a fifth time, but no date has been provided by Lancashire Police this time.