Lucy Letby guilty of trying to kill baby (2024)

Lucy Letby guilty of trying to kill baby (1)Image source, Cheshire Police

Judith Moritz & PA Media

BBC News

  • Published

Former nurse Lucy Letby has been found guilty of trying to kill a premature baby girl.

The 34-year-old was convicted of attempting to murder the child, referred to in court as Baby K, following a retrial.

In a statement, Baby K's family described having to endure a "long, torturous and emotional journey - twice".

"Today, justice has been served. But it does not take away the extreme hurt, anger and distress that we have all had to experienced," they said.

Last August, Letby was convicted by a different jury of the murders of seven babies and the attempted murders of six others at the Countess of Chester Hospital's neo-natal unit between June 2015 and June 2016.

However, a verdict on the allegation relating to Baby K could not be reached, and a retrial was ordered, heard at Manchester Crown Court.

The retrial jury found her guilty of trying to murder the "very premature" infant by dislodging her breathing tube in the early hours of 17 February 2016.

The parents of Baby K gasped and then cried as the jury foreman read out the verdict following three-and-a-half hours of deliberation.

Letby showed no emotion in the dock.

Det Ch Insp Nicola Evans, of Cheshire Police, praised the "courage, strength and resilience" of the child's parents, who she said had been forced to face "continual denials" from Letby.

“I would like to thank them for continuing to put their faith in us and I hope that the conclusion today provides them with some peace of mind and some of the answers they have been searching for," she said.

“Once again, there are no winners in this case. Today is not a time for celebration – it is a time for reflection and a time for the family of Baby K."

The court heard how Letby had targeted the child after she was moved from the delivery room to the neo-natal unit shortly after her premature birth.

Image source, Helen Tipper

'Took pleasure'

The jury agreed that the former nurse had dislodged the baby’s breathing tube and stood by her incubator watching her blood oxygen levels drop, without intervening.

Consultant paediatrician Dr Ravi Jayaram had caught her "virtually red-handed" as he entered the unit's intensive care room at about 03:45.

Dr Jayaram, who intervened to resuscitate the child, told jurors he saw "no evidence" that Letby had done anything to help the deteriorating baby.

He said he heard no call for help from Letby, or alarms sounding as Baby K's blood oxygen levels suddenly dropped.

Letby told the jury of six women and six men she had no recollection of any such event.

She denied she did anything harmful to Baby K and repeatedly insisted she had not committed any of the offences of which she had been convicted.

Baby K was transferred to a specialist hospital later on 17 February because of her extreme prematurity and died there three days later, with the cause of death certified as extreme prematurity and severe respiratory distress syndrome.

More than two years later in April 2018, Letby searched on Facebook for Baby K’s surname, the court heard.

Prosecutor Nick Johnson KC said it was part of a pattern of similar Facebook searches, telling the jury: "The truth is that Lucy Letby had a fascination with the babies she had murdered and attempted to murder, and with their families.

"She took pleasure in her murderous handiwork."

Image source, Cheshire Police

Letby’s lawyers had argued her convictions should be quashed at an appeal as jurors may not have been certain of her guilt, it can now be reported.

Her legal team unsuccessfully brought a Court of Appeal challenge in April this year over her previous murder and attempted murder convictions.

Her barrister Ben Myers KC argued that the trial judge, Mr Justice Goss, was wrong to tell the jury they did not need to be sure of the precise act which caused Letby’s victims harm.

He said: “They should have been told they should have been sure of the act. They have to have certainty as to the act that lay behind the allegations of deliberate harm.”

But prosecutor Mr Johnson KC, stated the argument was “not tenable” and that while medical evidence was “at the heart of pretty much all” of the prosecution’s argument, it formed “only part of the circ*mstances of the case” and that Letby “was always there when things happened”.

Other arguments were also made by Letby's defence team, including how the judge had dealt with "jury irregularity".

Dame Victoria Sharp and Lord Justice Holroyde dismissed Letby’s bid in May and their written reasons were published, external shortly after Letby's latest conviction.

'Sorry'

Dr Nigel Scawn, medical director at the Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said he was "extremely sorry that these awful crimes happened at our hospital".

He added: "Since Lucy Letby worked at our hospital, we have made significant changes to our services and remain committed to providing high quality safe care to our local communities."

Dr Scawn acknowledged the impact that the Letby case continued to have on everyone involved, adding he was "grateful for the unwavering cooperation and professionalism of our staff, some of whom returned to court to repeat evidence and relive events".

Letby was initially charged with the murder of Baby K but the charge was dropped in June 2022 because the prosecution offered no evidence.

In May, Letby lost her Court of Appeal bid to challenge her convictions.

She will be sentenced for the attempted murder of Baby K on 5 July.

'Public inquiry'

A public inquiry into how Letby was able to commit her crimes on the neo-natal unit is set to begin at Liverpool Town Hall on 10 September.

Det Supt Simon Blackwell said an investigation into corporate manslaughter at the hospital, which was launched in October 2023, remained ongoing and was considering areas including senior leadership and decision making between June 2015 and June 2016.

He said "at this stage" the force was not investigating any individuals in relation to gross negligence manslaughter.

The detective said he recognised the "significant impact" on a range of people and "we want to reassure that we are committed to carrying out a thorough investigation".

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Lucy Letby guilty of trying to kill baby (2024)
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