This site is intended for health professionals only

Letby found guilty with further count of attempted murder of baby girl

Letby found guilty with further count of attempted murder of baby girl
Lucy Letby

Former neonatal nurse and convicted child murderer Lucy Letby has been found guilty of trying to kill another baby in the unit where she worked.

Letby, who was last year given a whole-life term in prison for the murder of seven babies and the attempted murder of six others, will be sentenced for a further count of attempted murder on Friday 5 July 2024 at Manchester Crown Court.

The Crown Prosecution Service prosecuted Letby, who worked at the Countess of Chester Hospital, for the attempted murder of a premature baby girl, known as Baby K, after a jury failed to reach a verdict on that offence last year.

Following a four-week retrial, today at Manchester Crown Court Letby was convicted of the attempted murder of Baby K, who was born at the hospital in Chester at just 25 weeks gestation on 17 February 2016 and died three days later.

The prosecution said that a tube that had been inserted to help with Baby K’s breathing was ‘deliberately dislodged’ by Letby ‘in an attempt to kill her’.

The baby was born at 2.12am and a breathing tube was inserted. Shortly after 3.30am, the allocated nurse left the unit to go and speak to the baby’s parents and Letby was left to look after her. At the time the allocated nurse left, the prosecution said the baby’s condition was stable.

When the allocated nurse returned around 20 minutes later, the baby was being treated by consultant Dr Ravi Jayaram.

Dr Jayaram told the court that he had become increasingly concerned about Letby, following a spike in the number of baby deaths in the unit.

When Dr Jayaram realised that Letby was on her own with Baby K, he went into the nursery to reassure himself that everything was okay, the prosecution said.

Dr Jayaram had found Letby next to the cot and the baby’s condition was ‘rapidly deteriorating’.

He told the court that Letby was doing nothing to help her and had not raised the alarm or called for assistance.

Baby K’s breathing tube had been dislodged meaning she was not getting the support she needed.

On two further occasions the baby’s condition deteriorated and on both occasions the breathing tube had again been dislodged.

The court was presented with evidence to show that Letby had been present in Baby K’s nursery at both of these times – even though she had other babies to look after elsewhere.

The baby was later transferred to Arrowe Park hospital but her condition did not improve and she died in her parents’ arms on 20 February 2016.

According to Cheshire Police, the defence argued there was ‘no evidence’ to suggest Letby had inflicted harm on Baby K and that ‘she had been waiting for the baby to self-correct’.

Letby had told the court during her own evidence that she had ‘no intention of harming the newborn and had no recollection of what happened that night’, the force added.

As part of the retrial, the court was also told that Letby had been carrying out a search on Facebook for the surname of Baby K.

‘Letby claimed she had no recollection of why she was searching for this more than two years after Baby K died,’ a statement from Cheshire Police said.

‘She also denied ever having murdered babies or intending to harm any newborn in her care at the Countess of Chester hospital.’

The prosecution said the baby’s death could not be directly attributed to Letby’s actions and so a count of attempted murder was pursued.

Senior Crown prosecutor Nicola Wyn Williams, of CPS Mersey-Cheshire’s Complex Casework Unit, said: ‘Lucy Letby has continually denied that she tried to kill this baby or any of the babies that she has been convicted of murdering or attempting to murder.

‘The jury has heard all of the detailed evidence including from her in her own defence and formed its own view.’

She explained that the case had included ‘direct evidence from a doctor who walked into the nursery to find a very premature baby desaturating with Letby standing by, taking no action to help or to raise the alarm’.

‘She had deliberately dislodged the breathing tube in an attempt to kill her,’ added Ms Williams.

‘Staff at the unit had to think the unthinkable – that one of their own was deliberately harming and killing babies in their care.’

She said that Letby had ‘dislodged the tube a further two times over the following few hours in an attempt to cover her tracks and suggest that the first dislodgment was accidental’.

‘These were the actions of a cold-blooded, calculated killer,’ said Ms Williams.

‘The grief that the family of Baby K have felt is unimaginable. Our thoughts remain with them and all those affected by this case at this time.’

See how our symptom tool can help you make better sense of patient presentations
Click here to search a symptom