On the 16th of November, 2018 Valeria Kneale (75) was found dead in her hospital bed in the stroke unit at Blackpool Victoria Hospital. The beloved grandmother had previously fallen ill at her Knott End-on-Sea home on the 12th of November and was recovering in the stroke unit when she suffered severe non-medical related internal injuries and bled to death in her hospital bed. That night her grown children had wanted to spend the night in hospital but were told by hospital staff that there was no need. However, she would suffer a second stroke and never regained consciousness (despite being sat up and talking previously.)
The post-moterm revealed that Valeria had bled to death due to being assaulted. An inquest heard the pathologist 'felt' that Mrs Kneale's injury 'was caused by a forcible sexual assault after she was admitted to hospital'. Detective Chief Inspector Jill Johnston, of Lancashire Police, said of the attacker: 'This may be at the hands of somebody who is a predator and who may have committed previous attacks of this nature and may continue to do so.' Sadly, due to the delay in time from the attack and the alarm being raised, crucial CCTV and forensic evidence have been lost.
Interestingly, in May 2022 The Guardian reported that 5 healthcare workers were charged relating to various criminal offenses into the alleged ill-treatment of stroke unit patients at the same hospital. The charges relate to the period between August 2014 and November 2018. The charges were announced more than three years after police were contacted by Blackpool teaching hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in November 2018 about concerns raised over the care provided to several patients. For example, Catherine Hudson, 54, (a healthcare worker on the unit) has been convicted of three offences of ill-treatment of vulnerable patients. She needlessly drugged patients at Blackpool Victoria Hospital with the full knowledge of the potentially life-threatening consequences of her actions.
The police stated that these offenses were not related to the murder of Valerie, however, it does lend itself to the environment in which Valeria was being cared for. It also explains how a horrific attack against her may have been allowed to happen without any witnesses - if this was the culture at the time.