Porter tried to poison school soup, chef tells court
Published 05/04/2011 | 05:00
A KITCHEN porter at a top British public school has been accused of attempting to poison the pupils' soup.
Yesterday a court was told by trainee chef Louise Samples how she was stunned to see Maxwell Cook pouring a cleaning product into the carrot and coriander soup at Stowe School.
She was so shocked that she did not at first tell anyone.
Cook (58), denies attempting to administer poison with intent to injure, aggrieve or annoy.
But Ms Samples (21) told Aylesbury Crown Court in Buckinghamshire she had seen him in the kitchen pouring into the pot a sanitising destainer used to unblock drains.
Cook's counsel Henry James, suggested Ms Samples had poisoned the soup to discredit the chef, with whom she was competing for a job.
But she denied this, telling the court in a shaky voice: "Everyone I work with is like a second family to me."
The presence of the cleaning product in the soup on March 11 last year was detected during a routine tasting, the court heard, and no pupils or staff at the £27,000-a-year school were hurt. If ingested, the toxic liquid can cause irritation, vomiting and swelling of the throat.
Cook, looking frail and elderly, listened intently as prosecutor Robert Spencer-Taylor told jurors " a large number of people" would have been affected.
He was suspended after the incident at the school.