A NURSING sister boosted a patient's intake of a heroin-based drug while telling him: 'Give in - it's time to go.'
Chester Crown Court was told Leighton Hospital nurse Barbara Salisbury repeatedly upped the flow of diamorphine, a high-strength pain-reliever, in a bid to kill 76-year-old disabled stroke-victim James Byrne.
Robin Spencer, prosecuting, said as she pressed the button, which makes a beeping sound, she told the pensioner from Davenham to give in. He said a nursing colleague standing next to her at the time recalled the noise made by the machine sounded like a 'Space Invaders game'.
Mr Spencer said Salisbury, who is charged with four counts of attempted murder between May 1999 and April 2002, administered the drug in a 'ruthless drive' to free up beds.
The court heard how she accelerated the deaths of four patients, all from Cheshire, because she wanted them off her ward 'one way or another'.
Mr Spencer said: 'These were all patients whose days, or even hours, were numbered. For all, the prospect of recovery was poor or non-existent. For some, death was imminent.
'Barbara Salisbury arrogated to herself the right to decide when they should die, and attempted by her actions to curtail what remained of their lives.'
Mr Spencer alleged Salisbury tried to kill Reuben Thompson, 81, by lying him flat on his back knowing severe lung problems would cause him to 'drown', and allegedly administered an unnecessary dosage of diamorphine to Frances May Taylor, 88, after telling a colleague: 'Why prolong the inevitable?'
On another occasion she allegedly told nurses treating Frank Owen, 92, to: 'Lie him flat. With any luck his lungs will fill with fluid and he'll die.'
All have since died. The court also heard Salisbury, who joined the Crewe hospital - the main A&E centre for patients from Northwich - in 1993, tried to hurry the deaths of Lily Hillier, 86, Edwin Everett, 79, and Fred Hughes, 85.
Mr Spencer said: 'Why did she do it? It's difficult to fathom the workings of the human mind. One explanation is the defendant had a downright cruel streak.
'Another is a desire for control. She seems to have been motivated by a ruthless drive for efficiency to free up another bed.
'One way or another, she wanted these patients off her ward.'
During the time of the alleged offences Salisbury worked as a nursing sister on general medical and geriatric Ward Five and as the general manager of Ward Four.
Salisbury denies all four charges. Her trial, which is expected to last for eight weeks, continues.