Doncaster man denies spiking woman using dead girlfriend's painkillers

Kim Harrop first met Christopher Downes online, and was found dead in his bed in Humberston after their first meeting. Credit: MEN

A man has denied killing a woman he met on a dating website by spiking her drink or vape fluid with a lethal dose of his dead partner's painkillers.

Father-of-four Christopher Downes, 53, now of St George's Avenue in Dunsville near Doncaster, is charged with manslaughter after the death of Kim Harrop at his chalet in Humberston Fitties near Grimsby.

Mr Downes met 55-year-old Miss Harrop, from the Grantham area, on a dating website two to three weeks before they met in person in April 2018.

Sheffield Crown Court was told that a coroner found traces of oxycodone in Miss Harrop's blood, and that police found a bottle of the pills at Mr Downes' address, almost eight weeks after she died.

Christopher Downes' chalet was close to Humberston Fitties beach near Grimsby. Credit: MEN

Mr Downes said the powerful painkillers had belonged to his previous girlfriend, who died from cancer in January that year.

The prosecution claims Miss Harrop died after ingesting drugs supplied to her by Mr Downes. He denied the suggestion he had "stockpiled" it, saying he had "no reason" to spike Miss Harrop's drinks or vaping fluid.

Defence barrister Naeem Mian KC asked Downes whether he administered or gave oxycodone to Miss Harrop.

Downes replied "absolutely not", claiming he had "the best part of eight weeks" to get rid of the drugs if he had wanted.

"I kept absolutely everything in order to assist with that inquest, including the bottle," said Downes.

A coroner found traces of oxycodone in Kim Harrop's blood. Credit: MEN

Asked if he had taken the drugs himself, Mr Downes said that he suffered from a recurring tooth abscess at the time and took some "on a few occasions" to ease the pain.

He claimed that the reason there was a delay in dialling 999 was because he "did not have a working phone", because the batteries of the two phones that he had were both flat.

The prosecution claimed that Mr Downes deleted data from his phone during this time, but Downes rejected this.

"I have no memory of deleting anything whatsoever from my phone," he said. "When the police arrived, I made them fully aware of everything I knew that had happened during that date."

Mr Mian said the prosecution claimed that Mr Downes showed "over keenness" to know the cause of Miss Harrop's death, to which he responded: "Of course I was keen. This woman passed away under my roof. I was the only other person there. I was very keen to find out why she had died. I was the only other person present. I wanted to be cleared of all blame."

He agreed with a suggestion from Mr Mian that he sent a message to his brother saying he "hoped to be exonerated", and admitted sending a message to his sister saying that he was concerned that he might possibly be arrested.

"Yes, of course I did. In that situation, anybody in their right mind would be worried about being arrested," he said.

Mr Downes denies manslaughter. The trial continues.

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