A nurse has been convicted of murdering newborn babies at the hospital where she worked.
Lucy Letby used a variety of methods to secretly attack a total of 13 babies on the neonatal ward at the Countess of Chester hospital between 2015 and 2016.
Seven babies died as a result and today a jury found Letby guilty of their murder.
She was also found guilty of seven counts of attempted murder relating to six other babies.
She will be sentenced at Manchester Crown Court on Monday (August 21).
During the trial, which began in October last year, Manchester Crown Court heard that doctors at the hospital began to notice a significant rise in the number of babies who were dying or were unexpectedly collapsing.
When they were unable to find a medical explanation, police were alerted and an investigation followed.
Letby, now aged 33, was first arrested in July 2018 and subsequently charged in November 2020.
The prosecution was able to present evidence of Letby using various methods to attack babies, including: the injection of air and insulin into their bloodstream; the infusion of air into their gastrointestinal tract; force feeding an overdose of milk or fluids; impact-type trauma. Her intention was to kill the babies while deceiving her colleagues into believing there was a natural cause.
Pascale Jones of the CPS said, “Lucy 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.
“In her hands, innocuous substances like air, milk, fluids – or medication like insulin – would become lethal. She perverted her learning and weaponised her craft to inflict harm, grief and death.
“Time and again, she harmed babies, in an environment which should have been safe for them and their families.
“Her attacks were a complete betrayal of the trust placed in her.
“My thoughts are with families of the victims who may never have closure, but who now have answers to questions which had troubled them for years.”
Jonathan Storer, Chief Crown Prosecutor, CPS Mersey-Cheshire, said, “This is an utterly horrifying case. Like everyone who followed the trial, I have been appalled by Letby’s callous crimes.
“To the families of the victims – I hope your unimaginable suffering is eased in some way by the verdicts. Our thoughts remain with you.
“Our prosecution team and police investigators have my respect and gratitude. These convictions could not have happened without their dedication to securing justice.”
Following the verdict, Deputy Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Chief Inspector Nicola Evans, said, “Today is not a time for celebration. There are no winners in this case.
“Our focus right now is very much on the families of the babies. The compassion and strength shown by the parents – and wider family members – has been overwhelming.
“Today is all about them – and we must not lose sight of that. I cannot begin to imagine how the families in this case feel today. We will all take some time to reflect on today’s verdict both the guilty and the not guilty verdicts.
“I would like to say thank you to the families for putting their trust in us and I hope that this process has provided them with some of the answers they have been waiting for. We will continue to work closely with each of the families in the days and weeks ahead in order to ensure they have the support they all require in light of everything they have experienced.
“My thoughts – and those of the whole prosecution team – remain with them at this incredibly difficult time.”
Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Superintendent Paul Hughes, said, “This has been a highly complex and extremely sensitive investigation over the past six years. We had to go right back to the start, keeping an open mind and being careful not to draw any conclusions. The last thing we expected to find was a suspect responsible for these deaths and non-fatal collapses. It was a long, drawn-out process but no stone was left unturned. We had to do it right – not rush it.
“This has been an investigation like no other – in scope, complexity and magnitude. We had to deal with this as 17 separate investigations – we are normally used to dealing with one murder or attempted murder investigation at a time let alone something on this scale.
“What started out as a team of eight quickly increased and, at the height of the investigation, featured almost 70 officers and civilian staff working together – in a bid to unearth the answers that the families so desperately deserved.
“Turning up at the home of a family who have lost a baby, grieved for their loss and are trying to move on from that is difficult enough. But having to tell them that someone who was meant to be caring for their little one could ultimately be responsible for their death – is not an easy task.
“I want to say thank you to the whole investigation team in recognition of all of their dedication and hard work – without you we wouldn’t be in this position today.”
Key evidence in the prosecution case
- Medical records – these were crucial to establish the condition of the babies when they were attacked. When some babies recovered, the speed of their recovery was too sudden to be seen as a natural occurrence. Several medical documents featured falsified notes made by Letby to hide her involvement. She amended timings on several documents in an attempt to distance herself from incidents where babies had suddenly become severely unwell.
- Text messages and social media activity – these were an important part of the case as they coincided with the attacks happening on the neonatal Unit. They were dated and timed, sometimes they were similar to a live blogging of events. They also explained how Letby deceived her colleagues into believing that these inexplicable collapses were simply a natural worsening of children’s underlying conditions. They also revealed an intrusive curiosity about the parents of babies she had harmed.
- Staff rotas – we were able to show the jury that Letby was the one common denominator in the series of deaths and sudden collapses on the neonatal unit. We were also able to show the jury that many of the earlier incidents occurred overnight, but when Letby was put onto day shifts, the collapses and deaths began occurring in the day. We were able to corroborate this further using Letby’s personal diary in which she had noted her shift patterns.
- Handwritten notes and diaries – many handwritten notes were discovered by police during their investigation. They included phrases such as: “I killed them on purpose because I’m not good enough to care for them”; “I am evil I did this”; and “today is your birthday and you are not here and I am so sorry for that”. These notes gave an insight into her mindset following her attacks.