University of Portsmouth student poured bleach in housemate’s drink

SPARED JAIL Matt Brinicombe
SPARED JAIL Matt Brinicombe

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A UNIVERSITY student poisoned his housemate’s drink with bleach in a call for help.

Matthew Brinicombe, 22, was given a 12-month suspended sentence at Portsmouth Crown Court after admitting to putting Dettol floor cleaner in a friend’s drink at their student home in Nightingale Road, Southsea, on October 17.

The University of Portsmouth student, who has Asperger syndrome, was suspended by the university after he was charged by police.

Anthony Bailey, prosecuting, told the court how Brinicombe poured the bleach into a part-consumed bottle of Coca-Cola while the victim was out food shopping.

It was not until she drank from the bottle later that day that she realised something had been added to it.

Mr Bailey told the court: ‘She took one large gulp and swallowed the contents and she immediately realised that it had been tampered with because it tasted odd.

‘She spat out the second mouthful. The other housemate saw what was going on. He said to Mr Brinicombe “was that bleach?”. He replied “yeah, maybe”.’

Mr Bailey said the defendant went back into his room and listened to music on headphones.

The female victim went to Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham with the substance and was later released with no issues.

Mr Bailey said hospital staff realised the acidity of the drink would reduce the effects of the bleach, which is an alkaline, but informed the police.

Police officers took the victim’s keys and knocked on the door of the flat later that day. After letting themselves in, the defendant was found trying to throw himself from a third-floor open window

Brinicombe was pulled back in and arrested. He was remanded in custody by magistrates on October 19 for his own protection but was granted bail at a special hearing.

Bridget O’Hagan, defending, said her client was a ‘desperate, desperate man’ when she first met him. He did not think he was going to survive for the next seven days, she said.

Miss O’Hagan said the defendant made a ‘suicide attempt’ before the offence and was encouraged to go home but did not.

She said: ‘He does not portray emotions in a normal capacity. What he did was deeply, deeply wrong and amount of floor cleaner that he put in was minimal but it does not excuse it.

‘He made full admissions of the offence and he agreed with me for his own protection he should be remanded in custody.

‘The mental health team have been very involved in his situation and it is clear that his situation and his mental health have vastly improved.’

Judge Ian Pearson said he would give Brinicombe full credit for his guilty plea but took past offences into consideration.

He said: ‘You do find it very difficult to deal with your own needs and you do look inside into the problems that you have.’

Brinicombe was given a 12-month sentence suspended for two years, a supervision order for two years and an electronically-tagged curfew.