Man accused of poisoning wife
A MAN has appeared at the city's crown court accused of poisoning his wife at their home in Exeter.
Stephen Hirst, 52, of Hatherleigh Road, is alleged to have "endangered" his wife's life by giving her a dose of morphine earlier this month.
Hirst, who was wearing a suit, stood in the dock at Exeter Crown Court where he pleaded guilty to a charge of unlawfully administering a drug intending to "aggrieve" his wife, but denied a more serious charge of unlawfully administering a drug intending to "endanger" her life.
During the brief hearing this week, the court heard that Hirst is accused of administering a "poison or noxious substance so as to endanger life".
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The first charge states that between Saturday, September 29 and Tuesday, October 2, Hirst "unlawfully and maliciously caused to be taken by his wife a poison or other destructive or noxious thing, namely morphine, so as thereby to endanger the life of or inflict grievous bodily harm on his wife".
The second charge states that between Saturday, September 29 and Tuesday, October 2, Hirst "unlawfully and maliciously caused to be taken by his wife a poison or other destructive or noxious thing, namely morphine, with intent to injure, aggrieve or annoy his wife".
Hirst first appeared before Exeter Magistrates Court on October 3 before the case was sent to the city's crown court.
Prosecuting, Janice Eagles said the plea was "not acceptable" to the crown and said they would be proceeding towards a trial.
She said: "The plea entered is not acceptable to the crown and I would invite the crown to set a timetable today." She added: "The case was sent to this court on October 3.
"Seven weeks from that date is the date for the crown to serve its case, which is November 21."
Ms Eagles estimated a trial would take two days.
Judge Francis Gilbert QC said a trial date would be set for June next year.
He said to Hirst: "I will direct the prosecution to serve its papers and indictment by November 21. The defence case statement must be served by December 19. The next hearing you will be required to be here is Friday, January 11."
Hirst was released on conditional bail to an address in Yorkshire.
Judge Gilbert said: "I will renew your bail on the same conditions as before.
"Make sure you keep to them. This case is listed for trial on June 24."