NURSING staff accused of wrongdoing have been cleared after their trial dramatically collapsed, in part, due to non-disclosure of evidence by the Crown Prosecution Service.

At Bolton Crown Court last week Laura Taylor, a 27-year-old staff nurse in the Cavendish Unit at Leigh Infirmary, went on trial accused of wilful neglect of 23-year-old mental health patient Stephanie Mullineaux, who died on February 9, 2016, a day after she was found collapsed on the floor of a toilet cubicle.

Taylor was also accused, along with her colleagues Lesley Osbaldestin, 43, Bethany Clare, 29, and 59-year-old Maria Anderson, of providing false statements about the circumstances around the death to police and the coroner.

The prosecution arose after health care assistant Deborah Howard, in January 2017, told her manager that she and the four other women had made false statements about the death and claimed that Miss Mullineaux had been left by staff for several minutes after she was first found in the toilets.

However, during the trial there were inconsistencies between Ms Howard’s statement and the evidence she gave from the witness box.

Matthew Corbett- Jones, prosecuting, said: "Having looked at the evidence given by Mrs Howard so far in this case, as opposed to the evidence which was disclosed by her statement, we have concluded that there is no longer a realistic prospect of conviction."

In addition, it was discovered that the prosecution had failed to disclose all evidence prior to the trial, including an email regarding Ms Howard’s statement to the coroner which she claimed had been written by one of the defendants at the hospital. It was established that non of the defendants were at work at the time.

Mr Corbett-Jones, prosecuting, told the court: “A review has taken place and I am instructed to offer no further evidence in respect of all four defendants.”

Judge Gioserano told the jury to find Taylor, of Ince Green Lane, Ince, Osbaldestin, of Moxon Way, Ashton-in-Makerfield, Clare, of Pimbo Way, St Helens and Anderson, of Whimbrel Road, Tyldesley, not guilty.

After the not guilty verdicts Nina Grahame QC, defending Taylor, said: "The defendants have not given evidence themselves, we'd not reached that stage. What the jury would have heard, in due course, on behalf of all four defendants, was their impeccable work record whilst working for the Trust prior to these proceedings beginning."

Howard, who pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice before the trial began, will be sentenced at a future date.

And Judge Richard Gioserano has asked for a report from the Crown Prosecution Service regarding the disclosure failings.

He told the jury: “There have been some disclosure failings in this case and unfortunately, yet again, there has been a failure to fully and properly identify and consider digital material for disclosure to the defence.”