Surrey pharmacist denies ‘smoothie and morphine murder’

Bipin Desai, pictured outside Guildford Crown Court today, was arrested after an investigation into the death of his father

A respected pharmacist murdered his elderly father at their £1.3million luxury home by mixing stolen morphine into a fruit smoothie before injecting him with insulin as he slept, a court today.

Bipin Desai watched a football match on TV before pouring the painkiller into a drink for his 85-year-old father whose body was later found at their detached house in the Surrey stockbroker belt.

Desai, 59, who shared the home with his father Dhirajlal in Dockenfield, near Farnham, checked on him five minutes after kissing him goodnight and then injected him with insulin as he slept.

Today he faced a trial at Guildford Crown Court on a charge of murder, which he denies. The jury has been told he admits assisting in a suicide and two charges of theft by an employee.

William Boyce QC, prosecuting, said Desai at first hoped to disguise the killing as a natural death and went through the facade of making his father breakfast the next morning, which he left out for him.

When he returned home from work at the pharmacy he once owned, he made the fake ‘discovery’ that his father had died in his sleep and phoned 999.

But when he realised a post-mortem examination would take place on his father’s body – because he had not seen a British doctor for six months – Desai went into a police station, with his wife Dipti and two sons Samir and Nichil, and told officers he helped his father commit suicide.

His father had lived in Zambia before moving to stay with family in Zimbabwe and then eventually moving in with his son in the village of Dockenfield in February 2015. 

The body was found at their £1.3million family home in the idyllic Surrey village of Dockenfield

The body was found at their £1.3million family home in the idyllic Surrey village of Dockenfield

Mr Boyce told the jury that a 20ml bottle of concentrated morphine solution Oramorph was ordered by the Vaughan James Pharmacy, in Farnham – where Desai worked – on February 20, 2015 and delivered the next day.

‘Pharmacy records show the defendant was the responsible person on duty on February 20 when the bottle was ordered and was the responsible person when the bottle of Oramorph was delivered,’ said Mr Boyce.

‘This bottle is not something the pharmacy normally ordered, it’s very strong. All controlled drugs recorded at the pharmacy should be recorded in the controlled drug register.’

He added: ‘There was no recording. Rohit Patel [both corr], the pharmacy owner, was not aware that Oramophy had been ordered or received.’

Mr Boyce told the jury that on August 26, Desai’s wife and two sons had gone to London leaving him alone with his father, after he returned from a Pilates class.

‘However, several messages were exchanged between Desai and his son Nichil about Manchester United’s 4-0 victory over FC Brugge that night,’ he added.

Mr Boyce continued: ‘On August 27, the next day, the defendant went to work as usual. He knew when he went to work that his father was dead.

‘When he got in that night the defendant dialled 999. He said he had just come home and noticed his father’s curtains were closed. 

‘The breakfast he had placed on the table was not eaten and his father was not breathing. It was the start of a whole series of protracted lies told by this defendant.’

When police and paramedics arrived they confirmed his father was dead and asked him when he had last seen a GP.

‘He told them it had been before March because his father had been in India until March and had not seen a doctor until he arrived back in the UK.

‘He said he had last seen his father at 9pm the night before and found him dead on his return home from work at 6pm that evening.’

Desai is on trial at Guildford Crown Court (pictured) in Surrey for murdering his father

Desai is on trial at Guildford Crown Court (pictured) in Surrey for murdering his father

On August 29 Desai received a phone call informing him that a post-mortem examination would take place, something he then told his manager at work.

Mr Boyce said: ‘After that phone call on August 29 the defendant walked into Guildford Police Station at about 10am with his wife and sons. 

‘He said he was there to hand himself in. He was handing himself in for the assisted suicide of his father.

‘He said to the police that his father had been suffering from depression and had wanted to die so he could re reunited with his (late) wife and dog.’ 

He continued: ‘He said over the past four or five days his father had talked about ending his life, about wanting to ‘go upstairs’ which he took to mean heaven.’

He added: ‘He said that since father Desai’s wife’s death in 2003 and dog in 2010 he had become tired of living. His father didn’t want to discuss ending his life seriously with anyone else.

‘The defendant said he wanted to help his father carry out his wishes. He said he decided he would help his father on the Tuesday but do it on the following night, Wednesday, August 26.’

Mr Boyce explained that Desai told police that during the day his father got up as normal at about 9.15am while he himself had spent much of the day gardening, before going off to the gym in the late afternoon. 

Later the pair watched TV together. ‘He said he did not feel anything during the day about what he was going to do that night,’ he added.

‘They ate at about 8.15pm in front of the TV. After that his father asked him if he would help him.’

Mr Boyce told the court how Desai claimed he had stolen the morphine from work in May.

He said: ‘According to the defendant he stole the morphine and insulin days before reaching the decision with his father.

Desai told police he had made his father a smoothie from fruit and orange juice into which he had emptied half of the concentrated morphine solution into.

He added: ‘He said he gave his father the smoothie to help him sleep.’

Desai was the former owner of Vaughan James Chemist (pictured) in Farnham, Surrey

Desai was the former owner of Vaughan James Chemist (pictured) in Farnham, Surrey

His father drank the smoothie and went up to bed at about 8.10pm before apparently telling Desai: ‘Goodnight son, thanks for everything.’

Mr Boyce continued: ‘At about 10pm he went up to check on his father. At this point he injected him with the insulin. His father had a very slow pulse… 

‘About five minutes later there was no pulse. Death happened the same day morphine and insulin was administered.’

The subsequent post mortem examination on his father revealed he had 1,038mg of free morphine per litre of blood in his system when he died.

‘Concentrations as low as 50ml can give rise to toxicity for someone who does not normally take morphine,’ added Mr Boyce.

‘Some 100ml to 500ml in someone who does take phosphine can cause death. The amount given to father Desai was always going to be lethal.’

He continued: ‘The post-mortem examination also showed father Desai showed no underlying causes which may have contributed to his death.’

Desai admitted intentionally preparing a lethal dose of morphine capable of encouraging or assisting the suicide of his father in December last year. 

Before Mr Boyce opened the prosecution, High Court Judge Mr Justice Green told the jury: ‘I have told you that this case involves an allegation of murder. I should give you a brief summary of what this case is about. 

‘The prosecution say that the defendant murdered his father by giving him a very powerful, lethal dose of the drug Oramorph in a fruit smoothie which his father drank and which caused his death.

‘The defendant admits preparing the smoothie and putting into it the lethal dose of Oramorph. He accepts that he gave it to his father knowing and intending that it would cause his death.

‘The defendant however says that his father wished to commit suicide and that, as an act of compassion, he helped his father to die. I should tell you that in law, it is a criminal offence to assist another person to commit suicide. 

‘Mr Desai admits that he is guilty of this offence, and he has pleaded guilty to the offence of assisting suicide. However he denies that he is guilty of murder.’ 

Mr Boyce told the court that there was no evidence to support Desai’s claims about helping to fulfill his father’s wishes.

‘(Father Desai) suffered no debilitating or disabling symptoms,’ he said. ‘He was not, on the face of it, near death despite his advancing years.’

He added: ‘This was, by the defendant’s own account, very carefully planned. If the defendant has, as he says, helped his father carry out his wishes, what is the one thing you want to do, to make sure people people believe you?

‘When he mentions his wishes maybe say, “I have my mobile phone on me, I’m just going to record you, just in case”. There is no record, no indication, just a closed room which the defendant comes out from.’

A statement written by ambulance technician Tracey Allison was read to the jury, in which she described arriving at Desai’s home after he phoned 999 to find the pharmacist at the door waiting for her.

‘I asked Bipin why I was there and he said it was his father,’ joint-prosecuting barrister Kerry Broome read. ‘He had just got in from work and had found him. I followed Bipin to the downstairs bedroom. This room was in the darkness with the curtains closed.

‘There was a single bed with the elderly male in it. Bipin identified this as his father. He was cold to touch and had rigamortis. He had clearly been dead for a while.’

Paramedic Andrew Pigott told the jury this afternoon that when he arrived at his home, Desai appeared like someone who had just lost their father might seem.

‘He appeared at that time as someone who was receiving the news that their father had just died, in the normal way,’ he said.

Asked to describe his behaviour in more detail by Mr Boyce, he added: ‘Shocked, stunned and trying to think straight and process information.’

The trial was adjourned until tomorrow. 

Sorry we are not currently accepting comments on this article.