Woman Acquitted of Lacing Coffee With Viagra

Factory cleaner claimed she was 'set up'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 26, 2024 7:17 AM CST
Cleaner Accused of Poisoning Coffee: I Was 'Set Up'
Karen Beale was found not guilty on Thursday.   (Getty Images/Mikhail Dmitriev)

A woman accused of spiking her colleagues' coffee with Viagra was found not guilty Thursday after claiming she was "set up." Karen Beale, 62, was arrested in September 2018 after she was secretly recorded using gloves to handle a jar of Nescafé at a factory in Dover, England, where she worked as a cleaner. She waited more than five years to stand trial due to delays attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic. Canterbury Crown Court heard that an accountant complained about a weird taste and blue and white specks in the coffee before setting up a hidden camera, which recorded Beale looking inside a jar of coffee and shaking it, per the Mirror. Police later found two jars of coffee contained the erectile dysfunction and high cholesterol medication sildenafil, sold as Viagra, per the Guardian.

Over a three-day trial, prosecutors claimed the video showed clear evidence of tampering. Beale "hoped and intended [the drug] would have some effect," they said. But Beale said a general manager told her to inspect the coffee, which was all she was doing. Her lawyer argued the footage had not come from an "impartial" source. A senior staff member had found Beale "irritating," the court was told. "Why is it we have all this footage but we don't actually see anything going into the coffee?" asked defense lawyer Ben Irwin, per the Guardian. "What we see is Karen Beale looking at the coffee carefully. Perfectly consistent with her case." Beale was found not guilty of two counts of attempting to administer a poison or other substance with intent to injure, aggrieve, or annoy after three hours of deliberation. The Mirror reports she appealed her firing for gross misconduct. (More Viagra stories.)

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