DEPRESSION was not to blame for the brutal attacks by killer nurse Susan Toop on her parents, a psychiatrist told Winchester Crown Court yesterday.

Dr Caroline Bradley told the jury she found no symptoms of depression or any other mental illness that may have triggered Toop’s actions.

The 54-year-old has denied her parents’ murder but admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Arthur Toop, 82, and wife Joan, 74, were found beaten and stabbed to death at the family’s Charminster bungalow in November 2008.

Dr Bradley told the court Toop had no history of depression and showed no symptoms or it, either before or after her parents’ deaths.

“This was not a long-standing depressive episode that had built up,” she said.

“What Susan Toop did does not have to be attributed to a mental disorder.”

However, Dr Katina Anagnostakis, a psychiatrist from the secure mental hospital where Toop is being held, said she felt there was evidence of depression.

“She gave me the impression of someone finding it difficult to cope and reaching crisis point,” she said.

The jury heard Toop had visited her GP days before the killings and she had noted her patient was “just not right”.

But Dr Bradley said: “One change of mood does not make for a diagnosis of depression.”

All psychiatrists agreed Toop did suffer from factitious disorder, in which a patient deliberately exaggerates or creates symptoms of illness.

Dr Bradley said Toop had exhibited the behaviour to an “extraordinary” degree, managing to persuade medical experts into prescribing prescriptions or major surgery.

One possible reason for the behaviour may have been to win affection from her mother, with whom she had a troubled relationship, added Dr Bradley.

The court also heard Toop had told psychiatrists she had agreed a suicide pact with her parents many months before their deaths.

But Dr Bradley said Toop was an “unreliable historian” and her accounts of events had been full of inconsistencies.

The case continues.