Stowe School Poisoning

7 April 2011, 11:05

Police say they don't plan to reopen their investigation after a kitchen porter was cleared of trying to poison soup intended for pupils.

58-year-old Maxwell Cook of Broad Street in Syresham near Brackley had been accused of attempting to administer poison with intent to injure, aggrieve or annoy.  He was found not guilty by a jury at Aylesbury Crown Court on Wednesday 6 April 2011.

It's after a cleaning product similar to bleach was detected in carrot and coriander soup, during a routine tasting in March 2010.  A trainee chef claimed she saw Mr Cook putting the product in the soup, which was going to be served to around 100 pupils.

None of the soup was served and no one was injured.

The trial at Aylesbury Crown Court lasted two and a half days, after which the jury of 11 women and one man took two and a half hours to return their not guilty verdict.

Mr Cook slumped back in his seat with a look of relief as the verdict was read out.

A single cry of "yes" was heard from the public gallery.

Detective Inspector Russ Murden, from Aylesbury CID, said:

"I am satisfied with the court's verdict and do not envisage reinvestigating this incident. I would like to thank both Stowe School and all witnesses for their assistance during this investigation.

"Thames Valley Police will continue to fully investigate all allegations of foul play and particularly those incidents which affect young and vulnerable people."

A spokesperson for Stowe School said:

"We are completely satisfied with all kitchen procedures and there was never a risk of the contaminated soup reaching the dining hall.

"Pupils' safety as Stowe remains paramount."