Lucy Letby ‘gaslighted team to believe baby deaths were bad luck'
Accused nurse was ‘cold, calculated, cruel and relentless’ and used babies’ vulnerabilities to camouflage her acts, says prosecutor in closing speech
Nurse Lucy Letby ‘gaslighted’ her colleagues to make them believe that a rise in baby collapses on her hospital unit was ‘just a run of bad luck,’ her murder trial has heard as it draws to a close.
Ms Letby is alleged to have murdered seven children and attempted to murder ten others on the neonatal unit of the Countess of Chester Hospital between June 2015 and June 2016. She denies all charges.
Prosecutor says accused nurse was ‘calculated and devious’
In his closing speech to jurors at Manchester Crown Court, prosecutor Nick Johnson KC said: ‘We want to point out the evolution of Ms Letby’s murderous assaults on these children and we want to point out how calculated and devious she has been.
‘We suggest Lucy Letby has gaslighted the staff at the Countess of Chester Hospital – doctors and nurses alike, professional people with many, many years of combined experience.
‘She persuaded them what they knew in their heart of hearts to be utterly abnormal was just a run of bad luck. Ms Letby got away with her campaign of violence for so long because people didn’t contemplate the remotest possibility of a nurse trying to kill tiny babies.’
Evidence points to one person sabotaging care of infants on the neonatal unit, court hears
Mr Johnson said the ‘similarities’ between many of the cases showed a single person was sabotaging the care of the children. ‘Lucy Letby had used ways of killing babies and trying to kill them that didn’t leave much of a trace,’ he said. ‘Certainly nothing was spotted at the time as being significant and her behaviour persuaded many colleagues that the collapses and deaths were normal.
‘Many of them simply couldn’t see the wood for the trees. Several post-mortem examinations in isolation didn’t raise the alarm because no-one – no-one – was contemplating the possibility of foul play.’
Mr Johnson continued: ‘We suggest Lucy Letby is an opportunist. Some of the children she targeted were sick, but they would have recovered. She used their vulnerabilities to camouflage her acts.’
He pointed to the case of twin boys, referred to in court as Child E and Child F, to highlight what he said showed her ‘calculated’ behaviour. The Crown says Ms Letby murdered Child E in August 2015 with an injection of air and then tried to kill Child F the next day by poisoning his intravenous feed with insulin.
Mr Johnson said two bags of nutrients were contaminated – one that Ms Letby hung up during a night shift and a replacement stock bag used the next day when she was not at work. Tests showed both bags – kept in the same fridge – contained about the same amount of insulin, the court heard.
‘Cynical plan’ for colleagues to use IV bags containing unprescribed doses of insulin
‘It was only going to one child,’ Mr Johnson said. ‘It was going to be connected to that child when the poisoner was not there. This is why it was a targeted attack. What better way for a poisoner to cover their tracks than to use a replacement bag to be used by an unsuspecting colleague, a member of her “nursing family”?
‘It shows a degree of cold-blooded, cynical planning. It diverts suspicion on to someone else. It deflects suspicion from Ms Letby.
‘She undoubtedly poisoned (Child F), who just happened to be the twin of the baby she murdered the previous day. Cold, calculated, cruel and relentless.’
The defence will deliver its closing speech this week, before the jury adjourns to consider its verdict.
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