Nurse Lucy Letby guilty of murdering seven babies

Jury convicts children’s nurse of seven murders and six attempted murders at Countess of Chester Hospital, after nine-month trial at Manchester Crown Court
Lucy Letby

Jury convicts children’s nurse of seven murders and six attempted murders at Countess of Chester Hospital, after nine-month trial at Manchester Crown Court

Court sketch of Lucy Letby on trial, illustrating story on jury's verdict
Lucy Letby

Nurse Lucy Letby has been convicted of murdering seven babies and attempting to kill six others at a hospital neonatal unit.

Ms Letby was a calculated opportunist who used the vulnerabilities of premature and sick infants to camouflage her acts, the Crown said.

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 their bloodstreams, injecting air into their stomachs, overfeeding with milk, physical assaults and poisoning with insulin.

Some of the children were subjected to repeated attempts to kill them by the ‘cold, cruel and relentless’ staff nurse, the trial at Manchester Crown Court heard.

Lucy Letby was removed from neonatal unit one year after doctors raised concerns about her

Ms Letby’s presence when collapses took place was first mentioned to senior management by the unit’s head consultant in late June 2015. Concerns among some consultants about the nurse increased and were voiced to hospital bosses when more unexplained and unusual collapses followed.

But Ms 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 restricted to clerical duties 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 Ms 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. Soon after, the trust contacted police. Officers arrested Ms Letby at her home in Chester, at 6am on 3 July 2018. During searches, a number of closely written notes were discovered.

Handwritten notes found at nurse’s home during police search

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’.

Nick Johnson KC, prosecuting, invited the jurors to read the note ‘literally’, as a confession.

Also found during searches were more than 250 shift handover sheets containing names of some of the children on the trial indictment. Mr Johnson said ‘voyeuristic tendencies’ drove her to carry out numerous Facebook searches for parents of children she attacked.

The nurse falsified medical notes to cover her tracks and persuaded doctors and nurses the collapses were ‘just a run of bad luck’.

She was also prepared to publicly attack the reputations of colleagues to deflect guilt, the prosecutor added. Ms Letby, from Hereford, denied all the allegations.

Judge imposed reporting ban while jury returned verdicts in phases

The jury of seven women and four men returned partial verdicts after trial judge Mr Justice Goss imposed a reporting ban until their deliberations were complete.

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

Lucy Letby fought back tears in the middle of the dock after the verdicts were returned by the jury foreman. She wept as she left the courtroom with prison officers, as relatives of the babies watched from the public gallery.

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

11 August
The jury delivered verdicts on a further six charges, finding Ms Letby guilty of murdering four babies and attempting to murder two more.

She stared at the floor as the verdicts were returned but was tearful as she left the dock. Her mother could be heard sobbing and saying ‘you can’t be serious’, ‘this can’t be right’.

16 August
The jury convicted her on six further counts – three murders and three attempted murders – and cleared her of one count of attempted murder of Child H.

The grandmother of Child G, a baby girl, gasped as Ms Letby was found guilty of the infant’s attempted murder.

Ms Letby was not in the dock as she refused to come up from the cells.

17 August
The morning court session was Lucy Letby last appearance in the courtroom as she went on to tell her legal team that she did not wish to attend any more of the proceedings.

She was offered the opportunity of following her sentencing hearing via prison video link but said she was not prepared to do that, the court heard.

The jury could not reach verdicts on six counts of attempted murder.

A court order prohibits reporting of the identities of the surviving and dead children.

Deputy Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Chief Inspector Nicola Evans, said afterwards: ‘The details of this case are truly crushing. A trained nurse responsible for caring and protecting tiny, premature babies; a person who was in a position of trust abused that trust in the most unthinkable way.

‘I cannot begin to understand what the families have had to endure over the past seven or eight years but we have been humbled by their composure and resilience throughout this whole process.’

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