A nurse, who worked in the neo-natal unit in the Countess of Chester Hospital, was a "poisoner at work", the Manchester Crown Court heard. Lucy Letby is alleged to have gone on a year-long killing spree while working at the general hospital. She is accused of murdering seven babies and trying to kill 10 more.
The nurse is also accused of trying to murder some of the infants multiple times. It's alleged that Letby murdered a just day old baby who was pronounced dead within 90 minutes of the 34-year-old coming on duty.
Her trial got underway on Tuesday.
Who is Lucy Letby?
Lucy Letby, who had specialist training in care for the sickest babies at Countess of Chester Hospital, is the neo-natal unit nurse accused of murdering five baby boys and two girls, and attempting to murder 10 other babies in 2015 and 2016. She pleaded not guilty, denied all 22 charges in relation to 17 babies.
Letby was the constant malevolent presence when things took a turn for the worse for the babies. She is accused of fatally injecting newborns with insulin, air or milk during night shifts when she knew their parents would not be present. The jury heard that one such baby was just 24 hours old when Letby allegedly injected him with air, killing him in just 90 minutes after she came on shift. She also tried to kill his twin sister the next day.
Moreover, Letby developed an "unusual interest" in the parents of some of the 17 alleged victims, and in some cases tracked them on Facebook. The court heard that the nurse was the common denominator that connected the deaths of seven infants and the fatal collapse of 10 others at the Countess of Chester Hospital.
Babies Deteriorated Unexpectedly
Nick Johnson KC, the prosecutor, described the Countess of Chester Hospital as a busy general hospital which included a neo-natal unit that cared for premature and sick babies. "It is a hospital like so many others in the UK but unlike many other hospitals in the UK, and unlike many other neo-natal units in the United Kingdom, within the neo-natal at the Countess of Chester Hospital a poisoner was at work."
He said the babies were sometimes injected with air down a tube into their circulation, and at others they were injected with insulin through a feeding bag. The prosecution alleged that the babies were given too much milk or air down a tube into their stomachs. Johnson said this would have had catastrophic effects on the newborns. The prosecution claims that Letby would tell parents "Trust me, I'm a nurse" when their babies were deteriorating.
Consultants noticed that babies who were dying had deteriorated unexpectedly and when the infants seriously collapsed, they could not be resuscitated. Johnson told the court varying means by which these babies were attacked but the constant presence when they were fatally attacked, or collapsed catastrophically, was Lucy Letby. A review of the deaths was launched by the police after consultants found that the incidents had a common denominator – that is the presence of nurse Lucy Letby. The prosecution shared a chart with the jury showing that Letby was the only nurse on shift at each of the 22 alleged murders or attempted murders.
The trial continues.