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Hospital nurse ‘murdered newborn six days after killing another baby on ward’

Lucy Letby, 32, allegedly injected air into the stomach of the tiny, premature child through a nose tube, causing his breathing and heart to stop.

11 October 2022

A hospital nurse murdered a five-day-old boy just days after killing another baby on a neonatal unit, a court has been told.

Lucy Letby, 32, allegedly injected air into the stomach of the tiny, premature child through a nose tube, causing his breathing and heart to stop, Manchester Crown Court heard.

The 32-year-old is accused of murdering the boy, identified as Child C, six days after attacking children in her care on the neonatal unit of the Countess of Chester Hospital for the first time.

She was also at the bedside of another baby who suddenly collapsed, Nick Johnson KC told jurors as he opened the prosecution case on day two of Letby’s six-month trial.

A prison van carrying Lucy Letby arrives at Chester Crown Court
A prison van carrying Lucy Letby arrives at Chester Crown Court (PA)

Letby’s first alleged murder, of Child A, is said to have happened on June 8 2015. She is accused of injecting air into the boy’s bloodstream and similarly attacking his twin sister, Child B, causing her to collapse.

Child C was born prematurely at 30 weeks on June 10 2015, weighing 800g. Despite going into intensive care, he was in a good condition.

Letby was working the nightshift on June 13 and into the next day, looking after a baby, with Child C in the care of another nurse.

Child C’s nurse was at a nursing station when the baby’s monitor sounded an alarm at about 11.15pm.

When she got to his room, Letby was stood by his incubator – the third time in the space of a week after a baby had collapsed, showing the defendant’s alleged “constant malevolent presence”, jurors heard.

Letby is said to have told the other nurse: “He’s going. He’s going.”

Lucy Letby appearing in the dock at Manchester Crown Court
Lucy Letby appearing in the dock at Manchester Crown Court (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

Mr Johnson said Letby sent a text message to an off-duty colleague, saying she wanted to be in Child C’s room as it would be “cathartic – in other words, would help her wellbeing – to see a living baby in the space previously occupied by a dead baby – Child A – but she had been put in another room.”

Despite several hours of resuscitation attempts, Child C was pronounced dead at 5.58am on June 14.

A review by a medical expert said “the only feasible mechanism” for the air in his body, which caused his collapse, was someone deliberately injecting it through his nose tube.

Mr Johnson said an independent pathologist who reviewed the case concluded Child C died because his breathing became compromised and he suffered a cardiac arrest.

The prosecutor told jurors: “If you are trying to murder a child in a neonatal unit, it is a fairly effective way of doing it. It doesn’t really leave much trace.”

Hours after Child C died, Letby searched Facebook for the youngster’s parents, Mr Johnson said.

He suggested that, from the timings, it was “one of the first things she did when waking up” after finishing her shift at about 8am.

“Lucy Letby was the only person working on the night shift when Child C died who had also been working on either of the shifts when Child A died and his twin sister Child B collapsed,” he added.

Letby, from Hereford, denies murdering five boys and two girls and trying to murder another five boys and five girls.

Earlier, jurors were told she allegedly deployed various means to attack the youngsters, including insulin poisoning and injecting air into the bloodstream.

The defendant allegedly tried to kill some of the babies more than once before succeeding, the jury also heard.

A probe was launched and unable to find a cause for the “significant rise” in the number of baby collapses but did notice one common denominator in all the cases – the presence on duty of Letby, it is alleged.

The trial continues.

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