January 23, 2023 11.00 am This story is over 10 months old

Man accused of spiking date’s vape fluid cleared of manslaughter

A jury unanimously found him not guilty

A jury has cleared a 53-year-old man of a manslaughter charge after he was accused of killing a Grantham woman he met on a dating site by spiking her vape fluid.

The long-awaited trial of Christopher Downes, 53, of Hatfield, Doncaster, came to an end at Sheffield Crown Court on Friday, January 20 – with a jury concluding that he was not guilty of the manslaughter of Kim Harrop.

It was in connection with an incident in April 2018, when Downes had taken Harrop, 55, from Grantham, to his seaside chalet at Humberston Fitties in Grimsby, after meeting her on a dating website.

Harrop was found dead in the chalet with a large amount of oxycodone in her system – as Downes stood accused of spiking her vape fluid with the morphine-based painkiller.

The prosecution claimed the defendant had “stockpiled” the drug after being prescribed it for his former partner before she died of cancer.

This was denied by Downes, who said that Harrop had complained about back pain during their day together on April 21, suggesting that she must have taken the painkiller herself.

After five hours of deliberations, a jury unanimously found Downes not guilty of manslaughter.

Investigating officer Roger Fell from the Major Crime Team at Humberside Police, who has been involved in the case from the outset said: “Kim was a mother and much-loved daughter, her untimely death has caused untold distress to her family.

“The verdict of the jury in finding Downes not-guilty is one we accept. I hope, at least the trial has given Kim’s family some of the answers they have been searching for in the years since her death.”

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