Lucy Letby found guilty of trying to kill two-hour-old baby

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Lucy Letby has been found guilty of trying to kill a two-hour-old baby girl on the hospital ward where she murdered seven other infants.

The “cold-blooded, calculated killer”, who is serving 14 whole-life prison terms, was convicted on Tuesday of attempting to murder the “extremely premature” infant after a retrial at Manchester crown court.

The infant, known as Baby K, was born 15 weeks premature and weighed only 692g (1.52lbs) when the former neonatal nurse was alleged to have tampered with her breathing tube, causing a “life-threatening” deterioration.

The newborn died three days later. Letby was initially charged with her murder, but prosecutors later decided there was insufficient evidence.

Letby faced a three-week retrial on the single count of attempted murder, which she denied, after the jury in her original trial was unable to reach a verdict last year.

Baby K’s parents sobbed and held their heads in their hands as the jury’s unanimous verdict was delivered after three and a half hours of deliberation.

In a statement on behalf of the family outside court, DI Andrea Price, of Cheshire constabulary, said they were “heartbroken, devastated, angry and feel numb”. They added: “To lose a baby is a heartbreaking experience that no parent should ever go through, but to lose a baby and then learn of the harm that was inflicted in these circumstances is unimaginable.

“Over the past seven to eight years we have to had to go through a long, torturous and emotional journey twice from losing our precious newborn and grieving her loss to being told years later that her death or collapse might be suspicious. Nothing prepares you for that news.

“Today, justice has been served and a nurse who should have been caring for our daughter has been found guilty of harming her, but this justice will not take away the extreme hurt, anger and distress that we have all had to experience.”

The family said they were left with the pain of potentially never knowing why Letby attempted to murder their daughter.

Letby, 34, from Hereford, stared straight ahead and gave no reaction as she was told she would be sentenced on Friday.

She has now been convicted of murdering seven babies and attempting to murder seven others at the Countess of Chester hospital between June 2015 and June 2016.

There are continuing police investigations and a public inquiry into how Letby was allowed to remain on the neonatal unit despite the concerns of senior doctors.

Letby, who has consistently maintained her innocence, was in May refused permission to appeal against last year’s convictions by the court of appeal.

In a 59-page ruling published on Tuesday, the court of appeal said none of Letby’s legal challenges had been arguable and that she had not met the criteria for admitting new evidence.

The nurse’s latest trial centred on Baby K, who was born at the Countess of Chester hospital in the early hours of 17 February 2016.

Prosecutors said Letby attempted to murder the infant about 90 minutes after she was born by displacing her breathing tube moments after the child’s nurse had left her side. This caused the child’s blood oxygen levels to plummet to “life-threatening” levels, the court heard.

By this time she had murdered five babies and attempted to murder three others. Senior doctors had linked her to a number of unexplained incidents but she remained on the neonatal unit for a further five months, going on to kill two triplet brothers by injecting air into their stomachs.

She was “caught virtually red-handed” trying to kill Baby K, the prosecution said, when a senior doctor walked in on her alone beside the infant’s incubator after she had tampered with the baby’s breathing tube.

The consultant, Dr Ravi Jayaram, said Letby was doing nothing to help the child as she fought for her life. An alarm on the baby’s monitor appeared to have been silenced, the court heard.

Prosecutors said the nurse tampered with Baby K’s breathing tube twice more in the following hours in an attempt to convince her colleagues that the newborn, who was sedated on morphine, had dislodged it by herself.

Nicola Wyn Williams, a senior prosecutor at the Crown Prosecution Service, described Letby’s actions as those of a “cold-blooded, calculated killer”.

DCI Nicola Evans, of Cheshire constabulary, praised the “courage, strength and resilience” of Baby K’s parents and added: “A trained nurse responsible for caring and protecting a tiny, premature baby abused that position of trust in the most unthinkable way. The continued denials have caused significant upset for Baby K’s family as they have had to endure a trial and subsequent re-trial. No one should ever have to go through what they experienced.”

Giving evidence, Letby said she had never harmed any babies and that she was “not guilty of what I’ve been found guilty of”.

The defendant told jurors she could not remember the night in question and had no memory of Baby K beyond the fact she was so premature. She could not explain why she had searched for the child’s family on Facebook more than two years later.

Detectives are analysing the records of about 4,000 babies cared for by Letby during her time as a children’s nurse at Liverpool Women’s hospital and the Countess of Chester, both in north-west England.

Cheshire constabulary has launched an investigation into possible corporate manslaughter and is examining the decision-making of senior leadership at the time of the deaths.

A public inquiry led by Lady Justice Kathryn Thirlwall will begin in September into how Letby was able to continue working with babies despite the concerns of senior doctors who connected her to a number of suspicious incidents.

Dr Nigel Scawn, the medical director of the Countess of Chester hospital NHS foundation trust, said: “Our thoughts are with the family and loved ones of Baby K. We are extremely sorry that these awful crimes happened at our hospital.”


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