Lucy Letby: who is the nurse accused of murdering eight babies?
The 31-year-old health worker would become ‘Britain’s most prolific child killer’ if convicted
A nurse accused of murdering eight babies and the attempted murder of another ten has pleaded not guilty to all 18 charges.
Lucy Letby appeared at Manchester Crown Court on Monday via video link from HMP Peterborough, where she is on remand. Her trial is due to begin in October next year and is expected to take up to six months. A pre-trial hearing will be held in January.
The murder case
Letby worked at Countess of Chester Hospital’s neonatal unit from 2011 up until her arrest in 2018. An investigation was launched at the hospital in 2017 following 15 deaths and 17 life-threatening incidents involving babies between June 2015 and June 2016.
The hospital had carried out a number of independent expert medical reviews into the deaths before calling in police, amid concerns about the neonatal unit’s high mortality rate.
The hospital found that “doctors had begun to note similarities in the deaths of the infants” and recommended “a thorough, external independent review of each neonatal death between January 2015 and July 2016”, reported The New York Times.
Following Letby’s arrest, in July 2018, inquiry leader Detective Inspector Paul Hughes said: “This is an extremely difficult time for all the families and it is important to remember that, at the heart of this, there are a number of bereaved families seeking answers as to what happened to their children.”
Reporting restrictions ahead of next year’s trial prevent the victims from being formally identified by the press.
If convicted of the eight murder charges, Letby would officially become “Britain’s most prolific child killer”, said The Times after she was arrested.
Who is Lucy Letby?
The former health worker, now 31, attended a comprehensive school in Hereford before enrolling at the University of Chester to study nursing. She joined the hospital at the centre of the murder case after graduating and also “spent time at the unit during her training”, said The Telegraph.
According to the Daily Mail, Letby had “a clean record with the Nursing and Midwifery Council and was even the face of a campaign to raise £3m for the unit”.
In an interview with the Chester Standard for an article about the hospital’s 2013 Babygrow Appeal to fund a new neonatal unit, Letby said her role involved “caring for a wide range of babies requiring various levels of support”.
“Some are here for a few days, others for many months and I enjoy seeing them progress and supporting their families,” she added.
After she was arrested, Jordan Sands, who knew Letby through a former girlfriend, told The Times that she was “quite awkward and geeky but seemed like a kind-hearted person”. A friend who asked not to be named described Letby as “an amazing person”.