Lucy Letby given whole life sentence

Nurse convicted of murdering seven babies and attempting to murder six others refuses to attend court to hear sentencing

Nurse convicted of murdering seven babies and attempting to murder six others refuses to attend court to hear sentencing

Lucy Letby

Lucy Letby has been given a whole life sentence for the murders of seven babies.

Ms Letby was found guilty on 18 August of the murder of seven babies and attempted murder of six other babies while she worked as a nurse on the neonatal unit of the Countess of Chester Hospital.

Lucy Letby not in court for sentencing

Speaking at Manchester Crown Court on 21 August some of the families of Ms Letby’s victims told her ‘you are nothing’ and ‘you are evil’ as she refused to appear in court for sentencing.

Mr Justice Goss told the 33-year-old there was ‘premeditation, calculation and cunning in your actions’ as he handed down the whole-life order. He said: ‘You acted in a way that was completely contrary to the normal human instincts of nurturing and caring for babies and in gross breach of the trust that all citizens place in those who work in the medical and caring professions.’

‘There was a malevolence bordering on sadism in your actions. During the course of this trial you have coldly denied any responsibility for your wrongdoing. You have no remorse. There are no mitigating factors.

‘In your evidence you said that “hurting a baby is completely against everything that being a nurse is”, as, indeed, it should be. You also claimed you never did anything that was meant to hurt a baby and only ever did your best to care for them. That was but one of the many lies you were found to have told in this case.’

The judge said that Ms Letby would be provided with copies of his remarks and the personal statements of the families of her victims.

Appearance of conscientiousness enabled you to harm babies without arousing suspicion

During sentencing, trial judge Mr Justice Goss addressed his comments to an empty dock because Lucy Letby refused to appear, instead remaining in a cell beneath the court

He said: ‘There is no doubt that you are intelligent and, outwardly, were a very conscientious, hard working, knowledgeable, confident and professional nurse, which enabled you repeatedly to harm babies on the unit without arousing suspicion for some time.

‘You prided yourself in your competence. Your fellow neonatal nurses spoke very highly of you, and several of them became your close friends. Having started as a band 5 nurse at the Countess of Chester in 2012, you became a mentor to student nurses and, in the spring of 2015, gained the qualification that enabled you to care for the sickest babies on the unit or those requiring the most intensive care.

‘You relished being in the intensive care nursery. Your messages to colleagues revealed an interest in babies that were on or were coming to the unit who had uncommon medical conditions.’

‘I hope this trial has brought families answers’

Senior crown prosecutor Pascale Jones said: ‘Today’s sentence means Letby will never again be able to inflict the suffering she did while working as a neonatal nurse. She has rightly been brought to justice by the courts.

‘My thoughts remain with the families of the victims who have demonstrated enormous strength in the face of extraordinary suffering. I hope that the trial has brought answers which had long eluded them.’

In 2015 and 2016 there was a significant rise in the numbers of babies who suffered serious and unexpected collapses in the neonatal unit at the Countess of Chester Hospital in Chester. Ms Letby was the only member of the nursing and clinical staff who was on duty each time the collapses happened.

She used various ways to harm the babies including injecting air into the bloodstream or stomach, overfeeding with milk, physical assault and poisoning with insulin. Some of the children were subjected to repeated attempts to kill them, the trial at Manchester Crown Court heard.

The Guardian reported on 20 August that police fear Ms Letby may have harmed dozens more infants at the hospital. A source told the newspaper that detectives had identified about 30 babies who suffered ‘suspicious’ incidents at the hospital when Ms Letby was on duty.

Further ‘suspicious’ cases are under review as Lucy Letby receives whole life sentence

Detectives are reviewing the care of 4,000 babies admitted to hospital while Ms Letby was a neonatal nurse in Chester and Liverpool. The government has ordered a public inquiry into the circumstances of the case.

Ms Letby has become the most prolific convicted child serial killer in modern British history. Her refusal to appear in court has prompted the government to look at changing the law to ensure criminals attend their sentencing in court, Downing Street has said.

The whole life sentence means Ms Letby will never leave prison. She is only the fourth woman in UK history to receive such a sentence.

Whole-life orders are the most severe penalty available in the country’s justice system, reserved for those who commit the most heinous crimes. Prosecutor Nicholas Johnson KC told the court Ms Letby’s offending was a ‘very, very clear case’ for a whole-life order to be imposed.

Ms Letby joins the country’s most dangerous offenders who are likely to die behind bars, including Sarah Everard’s killer Wayne Couzens, and Ali Harbi Ali, who murdered MP Sir David Amess.

Only three other women have faced such a punishment: Moors murderer Myra Hindley and serial killers Rose West and Joanna Dennehy.

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