Windsor civil servant ‘very flustered’ before preparing drink spiked with abortion drug for mistress

A senior civil servant looked “very flustered” before preparing a drink spiked with an abortion drug for his pregnant mistress, a court has heard. Married father-of-one Darren Burke, 43, a deputy director for the emergency services mobile communications programme at the Home Office, is accused of trying to cause Laura Slade’s miscarriage.

She refused to drink a glass of orange juice, which was allegedly laced with mifepristone, a medication used to induce an abortion, on December 4 2020, but suffered an unconnected miscarriage weeks later. Burke, from Windsor, denies obtaining the drug with intent and attempting to administer it to procure a miscarriage.

Isleworth Crown Court heard on Tuesday how he 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. Giving evidence on Tuesday from behind a screen, Ms Slade said: “It was never really an option for me but I knew I had to consider everyone else around me and the impact it would have on them. I told him when the due date was and that I was keeping my child.”

Read More: Married Home Office worker ‘laced pregnant lover’s drink with abortion drug’

Jurors were shown messages between her and Burke in which she said: “You’ve yelled at me, force(d) me to call an abortion clinic, told me how this will destroy your loved ones repetitively, you offered to hold my hand at the abortion clinic, you have crushed my heart.” She told the court she had “an instant gut feeling something was not right,” when, on December 3 2020, Burke offered to get her a Starbucks latte or tea the following morning as he had never previously brought her a hot drink.

Ms Slade said she had told him she was suffering from morning sickness before he arrived at her two-bedroom flat in Chiswick, west London, on December 4. “He was very flustered, walking between the front room and the kitchen and was offering me a drink again,” she said.

The court heard Burke returned with two glasses – one which looked like orange juice and the other water – while he had a cup of tea or coffee. Ms Slade continued: “I just looked at it and looked at him and said: ‘Well I’m not drinking that. I’ve told you I’ve got morning sickness.’”

She said she got upset when he told her he did not want to be on the baby’s birth certificate and asked him to leave. The court heard he asked of the orange juice: “Are you going to drink that?”

Ms Slade said: “I swore and said, ‘F*** no.’ He then picked it up and took it into the kitchen with his cup, then came back,” Ms Slade said. “I waited for the door to close, ran to the door, locked the door, then ran to the sink.”

Ms Slade said she found a white powder on the empty glass and called police to report her suspicions the following day. David Spens QC, defending, suggested Burke was not “insisting” Ms Slade drink the orange juice but had simply asked her twice because he was being “caring”.

The barrister asked: “Did he explain that he had brought the abortion tablets with him and when it was obvious you were determined to keep the baby he then ground them up and flushed them down the sink?”

Ms Slade replied: “No, I disagree.” The trial continues.

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