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A former factory cleaner tried to ‘poison’ female work colleagues by contaminating their office coffee with Viagra and other chemicals, a court has heard.

Karen Beale, who worked as a cleaner at Envirograf, a fire protection product manufacturers in Dover, was secretly filmed allegedly messing around with jars of Nescafe instant granules.

Canterbury Crown Court heard the camera was set up in an office after a colleague of Beale’s noticed several odd things about her cups of coffee including a strange taste and blue and white specks.

Camera footage from September 2018 shown to the court lasting 13 minutes showed Beale, 62, picking up the jar whilst wearing gloves and shaking it before taking off the lid to empty out some of the contents. It was then placed back on the shelf.

Factory cleaner poisoned female colleagues’ Nescafe with Viagra but was caught on hidden camera, trial hears

Karen Beale, who worked as a cleaner at Envirograf, a fire protection product manufacturers in Dover, was secretly filmed allegedly messing around with jars of Nescafe instant granules

According to Kent Online, another clip showed the cleaner using her sleeve pulled over her bare hand in what the prosecution allege was an attempt to avoid leaving fingerprints behind.

Police were then alerted after the footage was taken and upon arrival at Envirograf office’s, it was discovered that two coffee jars contained a number of abnormal ‘ingredients’.

It was discovered that one of these products was Sildenafil, a erectile dysfunction treatment sold under the Viagra brand name.

The court heard the contaminated jars of Nescafe were found in offices belonging to company secretary Jean Smith and accountant Katrina Gravenor.

Gravenor installed the secret camera in her office after becoming suspicious at the sight and taste of her beverage.

Prosecutor Matthew Hodgetts told the court: ‘Not what you would expect to be in Nescafe.

‘She was intending that there would be some effect on those two women by putting it in their coffee.

‘That’s why the prosecution say she was attempting to poison.’

He said the 62-year-old intended to cause harm by her actions even though none of the chemicals were toxic or would ‘necessarily cause problems’.

Mr Hodgetts continued: ‘She denies placing or attempting to place any substance into those coffee jars and is possibly going to suggest that these allegations against her are malicious in nature.

‘But the prosecution say quite plainly those substances were put into those two women’s coffee, hoping and intending it would have some effect and, at the very least, some annoyance.’

But Beale, now of Winsley in Westbury, Shropshire, claimed she was the victim of ‘malicious allegations’ and told police she was just ‘inspecting the coffee’.

Karen Beale worked as a cleaner at Envirograf, a fire protection product manufacturers in Dover

Karen Beale worked as a cleaner at Envirograf, a fire protection product manufacturers in Dover

Speaking in court, Beale denied two offences of attempting to administer a poison or other destructive or noxious thing with intent to injure, aggrieve or annoy between July 30, 2017, and September 16, 2018.

Beale described herself as feeling ‘stunned’ when she was arrested as she had no previous convictions or cautions, the court heard.

She also claimed she had been asked to ‘keep an eye on it’ by general manager Paul Ackerman-Mond.

She continued: ‘He just said Katrina Gravenor was concerned about her coffee and believed one of the night staff was tampering with it and for me to just take a look and keep an eye on it.

‘I had a job to go back to and I just thought it would be horrible and I didn’t want to get him into trouble or make it worse for myself.

‘I just thought it was best I said I had heard a rumour.’

She denied having any grievances with Ms Gravenor and Ms Smith and when asked about the gloves, she said: ‘I was improvising. It was just a hygienic thing. It was not a criminal act’.

Meanwhile, Ackerman-Mond denied when questioned that he had tried to ‘set up’ the cleaner by instructing her to check the coffee or being aware of the camera.

Envirograf managing director Derek Ward, 91, told the court he knew nothing about any concerns over coffee or a camera being installed in his accountant’s office until police told him.

The trial continues.



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