Lucy Letby: nurse found guilty of murdering seven babies
Friday, 18 August, 2023, 18:30
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. They have been delivered over several hearings. Reporting restrictions have now been lifted allowing the BBC to report all the verdicts. 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. Follow live: Lucy Letby convicted of killing babies in her care The defendant was found not guilty of two attempted murder charges and the jury was undecided on 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 the remaining six counts of attempted murder. 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.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. 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. 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. The reasons for her non-attendance have not yet been disclosed by the judge. 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.