Lucy Letby trial: plumber recalls sewage in hospital sinks
Countess of Chester Hospital plumber recalls multiple call-outs to unblock sinks in ageing building, as trial hears one nursery flooded when cloth was forced down plughole
Plumbers were called out ‘maybe weekly’ to unblock drains at the ageing hospital building where nurse Lucy Letby allegedly attacked 17 infants.
Countess of Chester Hospital plumber Lorenzo Mansutti told the nurse’s trial at Manchester Crown Court about an incident in 2015 or 2016 when foul water came up into a wash basin in nursery one. He said that human waste or sewage came into the intensive care room from the drains of a ward above.
Ms Letby, who denies seven charges of murder and ten of attempted murder of babies on the Chester neonatal unit between June 2015 and June 2016, previously told jurors that raw sewage would back up into the unit’s sinks. She said it was a potentially unsafe environment ‘if the unit is dirty and staff are unable to wash their hands properly’.
Neonatal unit flood blamed on cloth being stuffed down plughole, court told
Mr Mansutti said there were issues with the drainage at the hospital’s women and children’s building, which he said dated from late 1960s. Asked by Ben Myers KC, defending, how often he was called out to ‘these sort of issues’ in 2015 and 2016, Mr Mansutti replied: ‘For the whole building it was maybe weekly.’
The court heard that plumbers were called out to a flood in the neonatal unit in October 2015, and how another flood in January 2016 in nursery four had been caused by white cloth being forced down a plughole.
In March 2016, urgent work was required to unblock a sink in nursery two and in a kitchen, while various plumbing checks were completed in the unit in early July 2016.
Nick Johnson KC, for the prosecution, asked the witness: ‘Does it come to this, that this area of the hospital at the time was quite old and had the occasional plumbing problems?’
‘Yes,’ said Mr Mansutti.
Mr Johnson said: ‘A lot of problems are caused by adults putting things down the sink that should not go down there?’
Mr Mansutti: ‘That’s one of the reasons.’
Mr Mansutti told the court there were contingencies for hand-washing facilities in the event of sink blockages on the unit. He agreed with Mr Johnson there was no repeat of the sewage incident in nursery one.
He said: ‘We did some work after to make sure it did not happen again.’
Defence case concludes as judge prepares jurors for summing-up of evidence
No further witnesses were called on Wednesday as Mr Myers closed the case for the defence.
Judge Mr Justice Goss told the jury of eight women and four men he will begin summing up the case on Thursday and that closing speeches from the prosecution and defence will follow from next week.
Ms Letby, who gave evidence for 14 days, denies all the charges.
The trial continues.
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