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Lucy Letby: the nurse accused of murdering babies

The Week UK logo The Week UK 3 days ago The Week Staff
A general view of the Countess of Chester Hospital Christopher Furlong/Getty Images © Christopher Furlong/Getty Images A general view of the Countess of Chester Hospital Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Court hears NHS nurse offered to take photos of baby she killed

British nurse Lucy Letby offered to take photographs of a six-week-old after she killed her by injecting air into her bloodstream, a court has heard.

Letby, 32, who is charged with killing seven babies and attempting to kill ten more, worked in the neonatal unit at Countess of Chester Hospital, where she came into contact with Baby I.

Manchester Crown Court heard that Letby prepared a bath so Baby I’s mother could bathe her daughter for the first time, according The Times. “I was so pleased to be able to bathe her. [Baby I] was obviously enjoying it because she was smiling,” the mother said. “Lucy even offered to take some photos using my mobile, which I agreed to.”

The prosecution alleges that Letby first attempted to kill the baby on 30 September, which caused the infant to vomit and struggle to breathe for half an hour. The nurse tried again on 12 and 13 October before eventually murdering Baby I on 22 October by injecting air into her bloodstream.

After doctors pronounced the baby dead, “the parents were asked if they wanted to bathe her”, said the newspaper. Letby brought the bath in and offered to take photos of the deceased child for her mother. “While we were bathing her, Lucy was smiling and kept going on about how she was present at the first bath,” she told the court.

Letby denies all the charges. The trial, which began in October last year, is now in its 13th week. 

Who is Lucy Letby?

The former health worker attended a comprehensive school in Hereford before enrolling at the University of Chester to study nursing. She joined the hospital at the centre of the murder case after graduating and also “spent time at the unit during her training”, said The Telegraph.

According to the Daily Mail, Letby had “a clean record with the Nursing and Midwifery Council and was even the face of a campaign to raise £3m for the unit”.

In an interview with the Chester Standard for an article about the hospital’s 2013 Babygrow Appeal to fund a new neonatal unit, Letby said her role involved “caring for a wide range of babies requiring various levels of support”.

The murder case

Letby worked at Countess of Chester Hospital’s neonatal unit from 2011 up until her arrest in 2018. An investigation was launched at the hospital in 2017 following 15 deaths and 17 life-threatening incidents involving babies between June 2015 and June 2016.  

The hospital had carried out a number of independent expert medical reviews into the deaths before calling in police, amid concerns about the neonatal unit’s high mortality rate. It found that “doctors had begun to note similarities in the deaths of the infants” and recommended “a thorough, external independent review of each neonatal death between January 2015 and July 2016”, reported The New York Times.

Opening the prosecution, Nick Johnson KC said the collapses and deaths of all 17 children concerned between June 2015 and June 2016 were not “naturally occurring tragedies”.

“They were all the work, we say, of the woman in the dock, who we say was the constant malevolent presence when things took a turn for the worse for these 17 children.”

The prosecution also alleged that she wrote notes reading “I am evil” and “I killed them on purpose because I’m not good enough”. The passages were written on Post-it Notes following a search of her home, reported the BBC. Another said: “I haven’t done anything wrong and they have no evidence so why have I had to hide away?”

Outlining Letby’s defence, Ben Myers KC said she was a “dedicated nurse” and in “no way did she want to harm” babies. The court heard she “cared deeply” for those she had to look after.

Reporting restrictions prevent the victims from being formally identified by the press. If convicted of the seven murder charges, Letby would officially become “Britain’s most prolific child killer”, said The Times after she was arrested.

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