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A woman has spoken out for the first time after her friend poisoned her by lacing her coffee with a lethal cocktail of drugs because she wouldn’t buy him a video game.
Denise Smith, 66, ended up being rushed to hospital after becoming ill, prompting Christopher Connolly — who had moved in with her — to confess to police that he had been poisoning her.
Connolly was jailed for four years in April after pleaded guilty to attempting to cause grievous bodily harm with intent at Maidstone Crown Court.
The court heard that he had become vengeful after Smith refused to buy him a PlayStation game he wanted for his 28th birthday in December 2018.
Connolly, now 29, started lacing the sweetener for her coffee with a concoction of crushed-up painkillers, antidepressants and pills for anxiety and sleep disorders.
Smith, from Chatham, Kent, started suffering from dizziness, confusion and extreme fatigue and eventually became so ill that she was rushed to Medway Hospital in Kent where she spent two days recovering but still suffers from memory loss and insomnia.
Speaking about her ordeal for the first time, charity shop worker Smith said: “Christopher took advantage of me in the worst way possible. He was a lost young man - all I ever tried to do was help him out.
“He was bitter because I hadn't been able to get him the PlayStation game that asked for. His revenge was to drug my coffee, knowing full well as most of my mates do, I have at least 10 cups a day.
“I was in a permanent state of groggy confusion for the weeks he was drugging me, it got worse and worse until I was bedbound.
“He kept saying I wasn't to worry as he was there to take care of me. But he could have killed me.
“My memory is damaged now for life, I have insomnia and dreadful flashbacks. It makes me sick to think of what he did to me. He was supposed to be my best friend.”
The pair first crossed paths after becoming neighbours in Chatham in 2014.
Unemployed Connolly offered to look after Smith’s dog while she was at work and the pair became friends, with Smith regularly cooking meals for him.
The 66-year-old said she felt she was a calming influence in his life, but everything changed when she was unable to buy him the PlayStation game Red Dead Redempton for his 28th birthday on 21 December, 2018.
“Christopher sulked for weeks after I'd told him I couldn't afford the game,” she said. “I thought it was ridiculous, but as he wasn't on good terms with his family I did feel a bit sorry for him as I knew he wouldn't most likely get much at all. “I gave him the benefit of the doubt about it.
“I had also invited him around to mine for Christmas that year. I stocked up the fridge with all our favourite foods and even let him stay around at my flat for a few days.”
On 21 December 2018 Connolly began spiking Smith’s coffee with a mixture of crushed painkillers, antidepressants and pills for anxiety and sleep disorders, topping it up with a “festive” Baileys when she questioned the taste, watching her gradually become weaker and more confused.
Smith started feeling groggy and experiencing strange symptoms, and by the start of January couldn’t get out of bed, but Connolly offered to help her by walking her dog and looking after her.
On 3 January, 2019, Connolly called police from a local payphone, telling the operator he thought he had “murdered” his friend.
He was arrested and officers went to Smith’s home where they had to wake her from a “drowsy” state.
She was admitted to hospital, where a urine sample was found to contain as many as 11 medications - eight of which had not been prescribed to her.
Doctors said the cocktail had put her at risk of “severe adverse effects and death”.
Connolly, who the court later heard was suffering from an emotionally unstable personality disorder and autism, admitted attempting to cause grievous bodily harm with intent and was jailed for four years,
But Smith said she didn’t think he had been handed a long enough sentence, adding: “I am still suffering the ill effects of the drugs he'd been giving me.
“I really don't think he got long enough of a sentence, he'll be out before you know it.
“It is absolutely scary what could have happened. He might have come back and finished me off.”