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UK child-killer nurse facing life sentence for murdering 7 newborn babies

DECCAN CHRONICLE | DC Correspondent

Published on: August 21, 2023 | Updated on: August 21, 2023

A handout image taken from police bodycam footage released by Cheshire Constabulary police force in Manchester shows the nurse Lucy Letby being arrested at home in Chester. (AFP)

LONDON: A British nurse will be sentenced on Monday for murdering seven newborn babies and attempting to kill six others while they were in her care.

Lucy Letby, 33, was convicted of killing five boys and two girls, making her the UK's most prolific child serial killer in modern history.

She was arrested following a string of baby deaths at the neonatal unit of the Countess of Chester Hospital in northwest England between June 2015 and June 2016.

The prosecution said Letby attacked her young and often prematurely born victims by either injecting them with air, overfeeding them with milk or poisoning them with insulin.

Following a trial that started in October, a jury at Manchester Crown Court ended more than 110 hours of deliberations on Friday.

The jury cleared Letby of two counts of attempted murder and were unable to reach decisions on six other counts of attempted murder.

But the multiple guilty verdicts for murder mean Letby faces the prospect of never being released from prison.
    
Letby fought back tears in the dock as the jury returned their first guilty decisions earlier in August.

She was not in court for the final verdicts and has reportedly told her lawyers she will not attend her sentencing.

'Bittersweet result'

The families of Letby's victims said in a joint statement afterwards that while "justice has been served" it "will not take away from the extreme hurt, anger and distress that we've all had to experience".
    
They added that it was a "bittersweet result" since some families did not receive the verdicts they had expected.
    
The first babies Letby was accused of attacking were twins. A baby boy, referred to as child A, was just a day old when he died in early June 2015, while his elder sister survived a murder attempt.
    
After the death of two triplet brothers within 24 hours of each other in June 2016, Letby was removed from the neonatal unit and placed on clerical duties.
    
Two years later, in July 2018, she was arrested for the first time. On her third arrest in November 2020, Letby was formally charged and placed in custody.

Letby's motives remain unclear.

During the trial, the prosecution described Letby as a "calculating" woman, who "gaslighted" her colleagues into believing the rise in baby deaths was "just a run of bad luck".

The jury was told that Letby was on shift when each of the babies collapsed. Some of the newborns were attacked just as their parents left their cots.

The court heard that Letby took an unusual interest in the families of her victims, making searches for them on social media.

She also sent a sympathy card to the grieving parents of a child she was later found guilty of murdering.

Handwritten notes found during police searches at Letby's home were among the evidence seen by the court, one of which had "I am evil I did this" written in capital letters.

Letby denied harming the babies and claimed a group of four senior doctors tried to pin blame on her to cover for the hospital's shortcomings. 

The UK government has announced an independent enquiry into the case and will look at how the concerns of clinicians were dealt with by hospital management.