UK's most prolific baby killer guilty of seven murders

Nurse Lucy Letby faces spending the rest of her life behind bars after being convicted of murdering seven babies and trying to kill six others during a horrific year-long poisoning spree. 

Letby, 33, targeted the vulnerable infants while working on the neonatal unit at the Countess of Chester Hospital between June 2015 and June 2016. 

For the latest news on the Lucy Letby verdict and trial, follow’s live blog here

She harmed or sabotaged them in various ways, including by injecting them with air to cause a fatal embolism, overfeeding milk, interfering with breathing tubes, or physically assaulting them.

Jurors at Manchester Crown Court heard the seven babies who died would all have been well enough to go home had they not been attacked by Letby.

She was described as the ‘one common denominator’ discovered by consultants and police called in to investigate when the death rate on the ward doubled.

Prosecutor Nick Johnson KC told the jury she was ‘the constant malevolent presence when things took a turn for the worse for these children’. 

Letby, he said, was an ‘opportunist’ who became ‘persistent, calculated and cold-blooded’ in her determination to kill, sometimes attacking the tiny babies multiple times. 

Jurors spent more than 100 hours deliberating over the course of 22 days before convicting her of seven counts of murder following a trial which lasted a mammoth 10 months. 

The judge, Mr Justice Goss, will sentence her later.

On August 8 the jury – on its 15th day of deliberations – unanimously found her guilty of attempting to murder two infants by poisoning them with insulin.

Letby fought back tears in the middle of the dock after the verdicts were returned by the jury foreman.

She burst out crying as she left the courtroom with prison officers as relatives of the victims looked on from the public gallery.

Her mother Susan, 63, shielded her face as she wept on the opposite side of the public gallery and was comforted by husband John, 77, who later leaned forward with his head in his hands.

Opening his case back in October last year, Mr Johnson said the Countess of Chester was a ‘busy general hospital’ with a neonatal unit caring for premature and sick babies ‘like so many others’.

But he told jurors: ‘Unlike many other hospitals in the UK and unlike many other neonatal units in the UK, within the neonatal unit at the Countess of Chester Hospital a poisoner was at work.’

Before January 2015 the special care unit’s mortality rate among babies was similar to other across the country.

But the court heard ‘there was a significant rise in the number of babies who were dying and in the number of serious catastrophic collapses’ over the following 18 months.

Mr Johnson said consultants ‘searched for a cause, which they were unable to find’, but ‘noticed that the inexplicable collapses and deaths did have one common denominator’: ‘The presence of one of the neonatal nurses and that nurse was Lucy Letby.’

Letby was not removed from the unit until after the deaths of two triplet boys and the collapse of another baby boy on three successive days in June 2016.

She was confined to clerical work and in September 2016 registered a grievance procedure.

It emerged during legal argument in the trial – in the absence of the jury – that the grievance procedure was resolved in Letby’s favour in December 2016.

She was due to return to the neonatal unit in March 2017, but the move did not take place as soon after police were contacted by the hospital trust.

To view this video please enable JavaScript, and consider upgrading to a webbrowser thatsupports HTML5video

The nurse was arrested at her semi-detached home in Westbourne Road, Chester, at 6am on July 3, 2018.

During searches of her address, a number of closely written notes were discovered.

On one green Post-it note she wrote: ‘I don’t deserve to live. I killed them on purpose because I’m not good enough to care for them’, ‘I am a horrible evil person’ and in capital letters ‘I am evil I did this’.

Mr Johnson invited the jurors to read the note ‘literally’ as a confession.

One of the senior detectives who worked on the case said Letby ‘grossly abused’ the trust of parents, colleagues and friends and used it as cover to commit her crimes.

Deputy senior investigating officer Det Ch Insp Nicola Evans said: ‘These events that have happened, some of them would take absolutely no time at all and nobody was looking.

‘Because why would they expect that this would occur?

‘It wouldn’t even cross your mind that in a hospital setting where you put your trust in nurses and doctors to look after your baby that anybody on that unit would be harming that baby.

‘Lucy Letby was in a position of trust and she grossly abused that trust in such an unforgiving way that has affected so many people … and she used that trust as a cover to commit her crimes.’

Her colleague, senior investigating officer Det Supt Paul Hughes said: ‘These are tiny babies that are effectively in a room to grow and develop … they are not in a critical condition.

‘But they are very susceptible so any aspect is subtle which is I believe why things went on for so long because it was so, so difficult to actually work out what had gone on.

‘And it doesn’t take much at all to cause a collapse.

‘So I think when you look at it outside, initially, like we were looking in thinking “well surely somebody would notice”.

‘But when you listen to the evidence and actually just how delicate these babies are in the position they are in, then you realise actually it doesn’t take much whatsoever.

‘And it becomes very clear that somebody with a sinister mind, in that environment … can create themself and I believe had created themself the opportunity to cause harm.’

Jurors in the murder trial heard how Letby ‘gaslighted’ doctors and nurses alike in persuading them ‘what they knew in their heart of hearts to be utterly abnormal was just a run of bad luck’.

Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) reviewing lawyer Pascale Jones said: ‘She was cunning with her ability to cover her tracks and to act as a propagandist with her colleagues.

‘A chill went down my spine when I was reviewing the triplets’ case of babies O and P, and having just killed baby O and compromised baby P she texts her mate to say ‘worry as identical’.

‘I thought ‘oh my god’, if there is an example of premeditation you have got it there.

‘All the time trying to say to her colleagues ‘don’t have any concerns it’s all normal’.

‘That’s the narrative she peddled and she was very skilled in brainwashing everybody in this sort of propaganda tactic that she was pursuing the whole time – ‘don’t question what’s happening, this is all normal, there is an explanation for everything, there is an element of fate’.’

Letby’s motive for the murders remains a mystery, but one criminology expert has suggested she may have been motivated by a ‘pathological desire for attention and sympathy’.

Speaking after the trial, detectives said the real reason may never be known.

Prosecutors never advanced a motive as they outlined the allegations against her to the jury at Manchester Crown Court.

Dr Dominic Willmott, a senior lecturer in criminology at Loughborough University, said Letby’s interaction with colleagues was indicative of her desire for ‘sympathy’.

He continued: ‘Text messages released during the Letby trial appear to indicate her efforts to garner sympathy from her colleagues following the children’s deaths.

‘Other evidence that she had to be repeatedly asked to focus on other patients around the time of the death of other babies and her passing on death notifications to family members seems to indicate her desire to be personally involved in the case, even when doing so was likely to raise suspicions about her involvement.

‘My heart goes out to the families whose babies were mercilessly taken from them.’

Got a story? Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected]. Or you can submit your videos and pictures here.

For more stories like this, check our news page.

Follow on Twitter and Facebook for the latest news updates. You can now also get articles sent straight to your device. Sign up for our daily push alerts here.

Source: Read Full Article