In Brief

Home Office worker accused of spiking mistress’s drink with abortion drug

Darren Burke had failed to convince his girlfriend to terminate pregnancy

A Home Office worker “laced his pregnant lover’s drink” with an abortion drug in a bid to keep his “double life” secret from his wife and family, a jury has heard.

Darren Burke “allegedly tried to serve his mistress Laura Slade a spiked glass of orange juice during a discussion about how much he would pay in child maintenance”, reported The Mirror.

Isleworth Crown Court was told that Burke, who has one child with his wife, had an “obvious” motive. “If Ms Slade had kept the baby then his double life would have come crashing down around him,” said prosecutor Paul Jarvis.

The prosecutor described a string of “acrimonious” Whatsapp messages between Burke and Slade after she realised she was pregnant in November 2020. Burke was said to have tried unsuccessfully to persuade Slade, who has two children from a previous relationship, to terminate the baby.

The jury heard he then messaged Slade a week later offering to come to her flat and bring a “Starbucks latte or a tea”, an offer that Jarvis said was “unusual as he had never made an offer like that before”.

During his visit, Burke allegedly asked again if she would like some tea, which she refused, before emerging from the kitchen with a mixture of orange squash and water.

As they discussed child maintenance, Burke’s “main interest was ensuring Miss Slade drank that orange and water mixture”, said the prosecution. But she did not touch the drink because “his persistence that she should drink it had troubled her”.

Although he poured the untouched drink away, Slade was able to have the glass tested. Traces of mifepristone, a medication prescribed by doctors to bring about abortions in the early stages of pregnancy, were found.

Burke denies supplying a poison and unlawfully administering it to procure a miscarriage. He told police that he had bought the abortion drug online in case Slade decided she wanted to abort the baby. He took the tablets to Slade’s flat but then used the empty glass to crush them and rinse them away, Burke reportedly said.

The Home Office worker has been suspended from his role as deputy director for the department’s emergency services mobile communications programme.

Slade miscarried their baby on Christmas Day, “but it was not suggested this was related to the incident”, The Mirror reported. The trial continues.

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