In a landmark verdict, British nurse Lucy Letby, 33, has been declared guilty of the murder of seven newborn babies and the attempted murder of six others. The distressing incidents unfolded within the neonatal unit of the hospital where she was employed, making her the most prolific child killer in the UK’s history.
The verdict, reached after a lengthy trial that began in October of the previous year, was announced on Friday. The accusations against Letby included injecting sick or premature infants with air, overfeeding them with milk, and poisoning them with insulin.
Families of the victims collectively expressed their shock in a joint statement delivered outside Manchester Crown Court. They acknowledged the serving of justice but emphasized that the pain, anger, and distress they have endured will remain profound.
Following 22 days of deliberation, the jury returned their initial guilty verdicts on August 8, which had been subject to a reporting embargo. The trial witnessed emotional scenes, with some jury members in tears upon discharge.
In light of the verdicts, Letby was visibly emotional in the courtroom. Notably, she was not present during the final announcement of the jurors’ determinations.
While Letby was acquitted of two charges and the jury could not reach decisions on six others, the prosecution has requested 28 days to contemplate the possibility of a retrial for those unresolved charges.
Letby’s sentencing is scheduled for Monday. Reportedly, she has conveyed to her legal team that she will not be present in court to hear the outcome. Consequently, she faces the prospect of spending her life in prison.
The series of tragic events took place at the neonatal unit of the Countess of Chester Hospital in northwest England between June 2015 and June 2016. The prosecution depicted Letby as a “calculating” individual who employed methods of killing that left minimal evidence. Throughout the trial, Letby consistently denied any harm to the infants.
Prosecutor Pascale Jones highlighted the gravity of the situation, characterizing Letby’s actions as an utter betrayal of the trust placed in her as she continued to harm babies within an environment that should have been safe.
The trial revealed that Letby was on duty during the collapses of the babies, and some of the attacks occurred immediately after their parents left their cots. Colleagues raised concerns, but Letby reportedly manipulated them into believing the deaths were mere coincidences.
The final victims, referred to as babies O and P, were twins. Child O passed away shortly after Letby returned from a vacation in Ibiza in June 2016, while Child P succumbed a day after their sibling’s demise. Letby was also accused of attempting to kill the third triplet, child Q, though the jury was unable to reach a verdict on that charge.
The police investigation extended to Letby’s time at the Countess of Chester Hospital and the Liverpool Women’s Hospital, where she had previously worked. The scrutiny encompassed over 4,000 admissions to neonatal units between 2012 and 2016.
The case drew parallels to previous instances of medical killers in the UK, such as doctor Harold Shipman, who killed an estimated 250 patients, and nurse Beverley Allitt, who was dubbed the “angel of death” and was convicted of murdering four children in her care in 1993.