National & International

Nurse Lucy Letby guilty of murdering seven babies on neonatal unit

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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 by the jury over several hearings but they were not reportable until jurors were discharged.

Letby broke down in tears as the first set of 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 were returned on 11 August.

Her mother sobbed loudly and was heard to say “this can’t be right – you can’t be serious” while the families of the babies cried and gasped.

Letby, 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.

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

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 lengthy 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.

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 today (21 august)..

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.

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