Civil servant jailed for spiking lover’s drink with abortion pills

Home Office deputy director tried to terminate mistress’s pregnancy with laced orange juice
Photo: Geoff Peters/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

By Jim Dunton

20 Jun 2022

A Home Office deputy director who gave his pregnant lover orange juice laced with abortion pills to end her pregnancy and keep their affair secret from his wife and child has been jailed for almost four years.

Darren Burke was working on the Home Office’s Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme when the offence took place in December 2020. He had joined the civil service four months earlier.

Burke, of Windsor, was suspended from work following his arrest.

He denied administering the drug mifepristone to Laura Slade and claimed he washed the tablets down the sink when he realised his mistress of five years was determined to keep their baby.

Darren Burke, a white man with a moustache and beard, in a grey hoodyHowever, a jury at Isleworth Crown Court in west London last month found the 43-year-old guilty of attempting to administer abortion pills to terminate a pregnancy.

Mother-of-two Slade did not drink the spiked juice Burke handed to her after powder around the edge of the glass aroused her suspicions. She reported the incident to police the following day,  but went on to suffer an unconnected miscarriage a few weeks later.

Judge Alistair Hammerton handed Burke 45-months in custody at his sentencing hearing last Thursday. He said an aggravating factor in the case was his destruction of evidence at “various stages” of the case.

The judge said he was satisfied that when Burke acquired the mifepristone he had intended to administer it to his pregnant mistress.

“She trusted you totally and as a result she now finds it hard to trust people,” he said.

“Your breach of the trust Ms Slade placed in you has adversely affected Ms Slade’s ability to trust others.

“The least sentence I can pass is 45 months.”

A Home Office spokesperson said Burke had committed a “truly devastating and horrific crime” and was no longer an employee of the department.

“Our thoughts and sympathies are with Ms Slade,” they said. “Violence of any kind against women and girls is completely unacceptable and perpetrators of these reprehensible crimes will continue to face justice.”

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