Former nurse sent to prison for leaving young child on brink of death after poisoning with ‘industrial level’ of laxatives

Tracy Ann Menhinick

Tracy Ann Menhinick administered a non-prescribed laxative for three years

Tony Mcguire

By Tony Mcguire

Published: 09/04/2024

- 11:37

Updated: 09/04/2024

- 14:20

Menhinick, of Aberdeen, consented to treatments, procedures and operations on the child which she knew were unnecessary

A former nurse has been sentenced to seven years in prison at the High Court in Glasgow on Tuesday for poisoning a boy with an “industrial amount” of laxatives to the brink of death.

Tracy Ann Menhinick, 52, cared for the boy, who can not be named for legal reasons, administered a non-prescribed laxative for three years from 2014, which caused his development and mobility to be affected and led to him being admitted to hospital.

Judge Lady Drummond told Menhinick that the only fitting sentence for “ill-treatment over a lengthy period and to mark society’s aberrance of this conduct” would be a lengthy one.

Sentencing Menhinick, Lady Drummond said it was “beyond understanding” why anybody would want to inflict such severe harm and suffering on a child over a number of years.

“You were an auxiliary nurse and knew what you were doing. Even once admitted to hospital you continued to give him dangerous levels of laxatives.

“Why anybody would want to inflict such severe harm and suffering, endangering the life of a young child on multiple occasions over a period of years is beyond understanding.”

The ill-treatment happened on various occasions when the boy resided at an address in Aberdeen, at Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital and elsewhere.

Menhinick, of Aberdeen, consented to treatments, procedures and operations on the child which she knew were unnecessary, “all to his permanent disfigurement, permanent impairment and to the danger of his life”, Judge Lady Drummond the court was told.

Between April 1 2014 and July 21 2017, she administered laxatives to a child aged between the ages of three and six, leading to weight loss so significant, a physician at Great Ormond Street Hospital described his body as “emaciated” and weighted in at just 10kg when he was admitted to hospital.

The continued poisoning of laxatives, namely lactulose, has left the victim with permanent disfigurement, stunted growth and there were “high expectations” he would live with learning difficulties.

Judge Lady Drummond described the child’s close brush with death, referencing “floppy episodes” where he had to be revived on several occasions, and underwent operation by doctors baffled at his body’s reluctance to improve, while former NHS auxiliary nurse Menhenick stood by quietly.

She was convicted in February following 19-day trial in Aberdeen poring over 5,500 pages of documents, after which a jury took just one hour to return a unanimous guilty verdict on a charge of ill-treating the boy and administering non-prescribed medicines.

A psychiatric report was requested at a previous sentencing hearing, which was referenced in court by Menhenick’s defence counsel.

Menhenick who has no previous convictions, is bed bound and suffers from “a package of mental health problems” according to her counsel, denies responsibility for her actions.

The court heard that a psychiatric report by Dr Forrest said that in his opinion Menhinick suffers from mental disorders, including “fictitious disorder posed on self and other”, known as Munchausen and Munchausen by proxy, but does not require hospital treatment.

Dr Forrest also set out recommendations for the 52-year-old’s care in the prison system suspecting a particularly difficult transition, which Lady Drummond expressed her keen support for to the former care worker's counsel.

Lady Drummond concluded that Menhinick’s motivations for her actions are “unclear”, but in spite of life’s challenges, she was capable of acknowledging reality.

You may like