A British nurse, Lucy Letby, has been found guilty of murdering seven newborn babies and attempting to kill six others at the neonatal unit of the Countess of Chester Hospital in northwest England. Letby, 33, was accused of injecting her sick or premature victims with air, overfeeding them with milk, and poisoning them with insulin. The trial, which began in October last year, concluded with the jury deliberating for 22 days. Letby was acquitted of two counts, and the jury could not reach decisions on six others. Prosecutors have requested 28 days to consider whether to seek a retrial on those charges. Letby will be sentenced on Monday and faces the prospect of never being released from prison.
The families of the victims expressed their shock and distress in a joint statement read outside Manchester Crown Court. They acknowledged that justice had been served but emphasized that it would not alleviate their extreme hurt and anger. Letby, described by the prosecution as a “calculating” woman, had repeatedly denied harming the children. Colleagues raised concerns after noticing that Letby was on shift when each of the babies collapsed, with some attacked just as their parents left their cots. The prosecution argued that Letby “gaslighted” her colleagues into believing the deaths were a result of bad luck.
Letby’s final victims were two triplet boys, referred to as babies O and P. Child O died shortly after Letby returned from a holiday in Ibiza in June 2016, while child P died a day after their sibling. Letby was also accused of attempting to kill the third triplet, child Q, but the jury could not reach a verdict on that charge. Prosecutors described Letby as being “completely out of control” by that time, stating that she was effectively playing God. Letby was arrested and released twice before being formally charged and held in custody in 2020.
The case has prompted a police investigation into Letby’s tenure at the Countess of Chester Hospital and the Liverpool Women’s Hospital, where she previously worked. Police are reviewing over 4,000 neo-natal unit admissions between 2012 and 2016. Letby’s actions have drawn comparisons to infamous medical murderers in the United Kingdom, such as doctor Harold Shipman and nurse Beverley Allitt. Shipman, a general practitioner, was convicted of killing 15 patients and is believed to have killed around 250 more. Allitt, known as the “angel of death,” was convicted of murdering four children and attempting to murder three others.