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Home ยป Letby Not In Dock As Trial Ends

Letby Not In Dock As Trial Ends

Image source, SWNS

Image caption, Lucy Letby, 33, targeted babies when she was working as a neonatal nurse

By Dan O’Donoghue, Judith Moritz, Lauren Hirst & Rachael Lazaro

BBC News

Nurse Lucy Letby has been found guilty of murdering seven babies on a neonatal unit, making her the UK’s most prolific child serial killer in modern times.

The 33-year-old has also been convicted of trying to kill six other infants at the Countess of Chester Hospital between June 2015 and June 2016.

Letby deliberately injected babies with air, force fed others milk and poisoned two of the infants with insulin.

She refused to appear in the dock for the latest verdicts.

The jury has delivered the verdicts over several hearings but they were not reportable until jurors were discharged.

Letby broke down in tears as the first guilty verdicts were read out by the jury’s foreman on 8 August after 76 hours of deliberations.

She cried with her head bowed as the second set of guilty verdicts were returned on 11 August.

The defendant, originally from Hereford, was found not guilty of two counts of attempted murder.

The jury was unable to reach verdicts on six further attempted murder charges relating to four babies.

Nicholas Johnson KC, prosecuting, asked the court for 28 days to consider whether a retrial would be sought for these remaining six counts.

Media caption, Watch the moment police arrest Lucy Letby at her home

During the trial, which started in October 2022, the prosecution labelled Letby as a “calculating and devious” opportunist who “gaslighted” colleagues to cover her “murderous assaults”.

She was convicted following a two-year investigation by Cheshire Police into the alarming and unexplained rise in deaths and near-fatal collapses of premature babies at the hospital.

Before June 2015, there were fewer than three baby deaths per year on the neonatal unit.

Her defence team argued the deaths and collapses were the result of “serial failures in care” in the unit and she was the victim of a “system that wanted to apportion blame when it failed”.

The trial lasted for more than 10 months and it is believed to be the longest murder trial in the UK.

Image source, Cheshire Police

Image caption, Letby was charged in November 2020 with murder and attempted murder

One of the babies’ family members left the courtroom when the jury foreman said it was not possible to return verdicts on the remaining six counts, while a couple of jurors appeared upset.

As the judge discharged the jury, he told the panel of four men and seven women that it had “been a most distressing and upsetting case” and they were excused from serving on juries in the future.

Letby will be sentenced at Manchester Crown Court on Monday.

She has indicated – via her legal team – that she does not want to attend her sentencing hearing or follow proceedings via a videolink from prison.

‘Hateful human’

The reasons for her non-attendance have not yet been disclosed by the judge.

The Ministry of Justice said the Lord Chancellor had been clear he wanted victims to see justice delivered and for all those found guilty to hear society’s condemnation at their sentencing hearing.

“Defendants can already be ordered by a judge to attend court with those who fail facing up to two years in prison,” the spokesman added.

Legislation to force convicted criminals to appear in court for their sentencing is currently being examined.

Image source, CPS

Image caption, The jury was shown a note, found at her home, which read: “I am evil I did this”

The parents of twin brothers who were among Letby’s 13 victims have told the BBC the nurse was a “hateful human being” who had taken “everything” from them.

Letby murdered one of their baby boys, and tried to kill the other twin the following day.

They said their child, who is now seven years old, was badly harmed by Letby and has been left with severe learning difficulties and “a lot of complex needs”.

“There’s a consequence and he’s living with it,” his mother said.

Janet Moore, Cheshire Police’s family liaison officer, speaking on behalf of the babies’ families, said it had been a “long, torturous and emotional journey”.

“We are heartbroken, devastated, angry and feel numb,” she said.

“We may never truly know why this has happened.”

Baby serial killer Lucy Letby

Senior Crown Prosecutor Pascale Jones said the nurse “did her utmost to conceal her crimes, by varying the ways in which she repeatedly harmed babies in her care”.

She said Letby “sought to deceive her colleagues and pass off the harm she caused as nothing more than a worsening of each baby’s existing vulnerability”.

“She perverted her learning and weaponised her craft to inflict harm, grief and death.”

Detectives are continuing to review the care of some 4,000 babies admitted to hospital while Letby was working as a neonatal nurse.

The period covers her spell at the Countess of Chester Hospital from January 2012 to the end of June 2016, and includes two work placements at Liverpool Women’s Hospital in 2012 and 2015.

Cheshire Police emphasised that only those cases highlighted as medically concerning would be investigated further.

They added that the review at Liverpool Women’s Hospital did not involve any deaths.

Media caption, Watch: Lucy Letby’s first police interview

The lead consultant at the neonatal unit where Letby worked has told the BBC that hospital bosses failed to investigate allegations against the nurse and tried to silence doctors.

Dr Stephen Brearey first raised concerns about Letby in October 2015 but he said no action was taken and she went on to attack five more babies, killing two.

BBC Panorama and BBC News have been investigating how Letby was able to murder and harm so many babies for so long.

The government has since ordered an independent inquiry into the circumstances behind Letby’s killing spree following her conviction.

The Department of Health said the inquiry would investigate the wider circumstances around what happened at the hospital, including the handling of concerns and governance, and would also look at what actions were taken by regulators and the wider NHS.

Prior to the government’s announcement, Dr Nigel Scawn, executive medical director from the Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said he was “deeply saddened and appalled” at Letby’s crimes.

He said the trust was committed to learning lessons and would support its staff who had been “devastated” by what happened.

“We are grateful for the cooperation of our staff, especially those who have maintained the utmost professionalism whilst giving evidence in the trial, sometimes on multiple occasions,” he added.

Ian Harvey, a former medical director at the hospital, said he would help the inquiry “in whatever way I can”.

“As medical director, I was determined to keep the baby unit safe and support our staff.

I wanted the reviews and investigations carried out, so that we could tell the parents what had happened to their children,” he said.

Image source, Cheshire Police

Image caption, Inside the neonatal unit at the Countess of Chester Hospital

Tony Chambers, a former chief executive of the hospital, said he was “truly sorry” for what the families had gone through and he would “co-operate fully and openly” with any post-trial inquiry.

“The crimes that have been committed are appalling and I am deeply saddened by what has come to light,” he said.

Cheshire Police’s Deputy Senior Investigating Officer Nicola Evans described the case as “truly crushing”, adding there were “no winners”.

“The compassion and strength shown by the parents – and wider family members – has been overwhelming,” she said.

Senior Investigating Officer Paul Hughes added that it had “been an investigation like no other – in scope, complexity and magnitude”.

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