Doctor faces jail for spiking mistress’s drinks

Oct 20, 2009
Jack Bremer

Edward Erin tried to induce a miscarriage after secretary refused to have an abortion

The London consultant found guilty at the Old Bailey yesterday of spiking his mistress's drinks with poison in an effort to make her miscarry, will be sentenced on November 16, when he is likely to face a jail sentence.

The General Medical Council has already banned Edward Erin from working directly with patients and is expected to strike him off the medical register. This is despite the claim by his jilted wife that he is a "good man" who has suffered a miscarriage of justice.

Erin was found guilty of spiking two drinks - a Starbucks coffee and an orange juice - after Bella Prowse told him she was pregnant but refused to have an abortion.

The 44-year-old doctor is well regarded for his ground-breaking research into treatment for asthma. He was working as a consultant at two west London hospitals - the Royal Brompton and St Mary's, Paddington - when he began an affair with Prowse, his secretary at St Mary's, after the Christmas "office party" in 2007.

Sobbing, 33-year-old Prowse told the court how she discovered early in 2008 that she was pregnant and, because she had had an abortion in 2002 which she felt was a mistake, was determined to keep the baby, despite his demands.

Like the rest of his colleagues at St Mary's, Prowse was unaware that Erin was a married man."He said he wanted us to have a future, and that he loved me. He wanted to take me climbing and he wanted to take me skiing, and this would ruin it."

On the day she finally told him her mind was made up, he visited her at home in Tulse Hill and stayed the night. The next morning, when she awoke, he made her a cup of tea. When she finished it, she noticed a pale yellow powder at the bottom of the cup. Erin said it was limescale fur from the kettle.

A week later, Prowse became suspicious when they met for coffee near St Mary's and she noticed the lids of the Starbucks cups had been removed and replaced. She surreptitiously poured the coffee into a bottle.

The following day, when Erin offered her orange juice, she noticed the seal had been broken. Police analysis of the coffee and the orange juice found traces of abortion-inducing drugs.

All this time, it has emerged, Erin was leading another life with his wife Dr Lowri Phylip, a microbiologist, and their two children. Although Phylip was unaware of the short affair with Prowse, she had tolerated previous mistresses as part of their "unconventional" marriage.

"We were not like a couple doing everything together," the Times quoted her as saying. "We always had separate lives but we loved each other. There were other relationships in the marriage, but it was the way it worked."

Speaking to reporters after the Old Bailey verdict came through yesterday, Phylip said Erin was the victim of a miscarriage of justice.

Referring to Prowse's confession during the trial that she had had psychological problems and regularly taken drugs, Phylip said: "How can the jury take the word of a self-harming, cannabis-smoking woman out for revenge against that of a doctor of good character who has done nothing but help people all his life?'

Outside the Old Bailey, however, Detective Chief Inspector Mickey Gallagher said Erin had "abused his profession and position of trust". Gallagher also confirmed that Erin had failed in his attempt and Prowse's baby boy, born prematurely in June 2008, was healthy.

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