Darren Burke, 43, crushed the abortion pill into a glass of orange juice to give to his lover, the court heard
A Home Office worker who tried to induce his lover’s miscarriage faces a “lengthy” prison sentence.
Married father-of-one Darren Burke, 43, was found guilty on Tuesday of giving Laura Slade the abortion drug mifepristone, but the judge discharged jurors from returning a verdict on the charge that he obtained the poison with intent.
The judge remanded him in custody ahead of sentencing on June 16 after saying he faces a “sentence of immediate imprisonment of some length”.
The court heard how Ms Slade had refused to drink the juice – claiming she discovered the remnants of powder around the edge of the glass – on 4 December 2020, but suffered an unconnected miscarriage weeks later, the court heard.
Burke, a deputy director for the emergency services mobile communications programme, had encouraged the mother-of-two to terminate the pregnancy and sent her links to an abortion clinic and abortion pill after she fell pregnant during the course of their five-year affair.
He claimed that he had crushed up the abortion tablets and flushed them down the sink when it became clear his lover was determined to keep the baby.
Prosecutor Paul Jarvis said: “On 5 December 2020 Laura Slade called police to report something suspicious about a drink her ex-partner had made her the day before.
“She said there was a residue around the edge of the glass and she suspected at the time he had laced it with poison.
“Her ex-partner had wanted her to take a termination but she refused. The prosecution case is that he laced the drink with the intention of terminating the pregnancy.”
Ms Slade sent Burke a message on WhatsApp to inform him she was pregnant after learning she was expecting in November 2020.
“There was some discussion about the possibility of Ms Slade having a termination, and it is clear from messages that Burke did not want her to have the baby,” Mr Jarvis said. She described herself as feeling numb and wanting to think without Burke being in her head.
“She was told she couldn’t have the baby because it would affect everyone. She took the view that he was thinking of himself.”
By 15 November, Ms Slade had decided to have the baby but was told by Burke that it would destroy his family life if she did so, jurors heard.
The pair arranged to meet at Ms Slade’s home on 4 December, and Burke went to the kitchen and returned with two glasses of orange juice.
“He had a cup of tea himself and they talked about whether his name would appear on the birth certificate and how much money he would contribute,” said the prosecutor.
“However Mr Burke’s main interest was making sure that Ms Slade drank that orange mixture.”
Ms Slade later messaged him to ask what had been in the glass, Ms Jarvis said.
“He said nothing, asking her if she trusted him.”
“The prosecution case is that these explanations are fantasies. He bought the tablets and found a way to trick Ms Slade into taking them to create a miscarriage.
“His plan was to break the tablets down into a drink where the grains would not be obvious to Ms Slade. His plan failed.
“His motive was obvious. If Ms Slade had kept the baby then his double life would have come crashing down around him because there was no way he could have kept that child a secret from his wife.”
David Spens QC, defending, said in his closing speech: “Mr Burke told you that he purchased an abortion tablet as a possible option after a phone call…That is his evidence.
“She, for her part, denies that there was any such discussion.”
Mr Jarvis told jurors Ms Slade did have a miscarriage three weeks later on Christmas Day, but he did not link that to Burke’s actions.