Former neonatal nurse Lucy Letby has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of release for the murder of seven babies and the attempted murder of six others at the Countess of Chester Hospital in northwest England. The sentencing was delivered by Justice James Goss, who emphasized the “cruelty and calculation” of Letby’s actions. Letby, who did not appear in court for her sentencing, was given the most severe punishment possible under British law.
During the trial, a Manchester Crown Court jury found Letby guilty of murdering the infants over a yearlong period between June 2015 and June 2016. The victims, identified only by letters, died in the neonatal unit of the hospital. Letby targeted vulnerable newborns and their parents, preying on their anxieties.
The grieving parents expressed their anger and anguish in court, with some sharing statements about the devastating impact of Letby’s crimes. The judge described Letby’s actions as having a “malevolence bordering on sadism” and noted her lack of remorse or mitigating factors.
Letby’s crimes included targeting sets of twins and a set of triplets, resulting in multiple tragedies for some families. The parents of the victims spoke of the profound loss and the lasting damage caused by Letby’s actions.
The absence of Letby during her sentencing, allowed under British law, sparked further outrage from the families who wanted her to hear their statements. Calls for changes in the law to ensure criminals face their victims during sentencing have been made by politicians and victim advocates.
An independent inquiry will be conducted to investigate what happened at the hospital and how staff and management responded to the increase in deaths. Some are calling for a more formal inquiry led by a judge with the power to compel testimony.
Throughout the trial, prosecutors revealed that the hospital had noticed a significant rise in infant deaths and sudden health declines in 2015. Letby was on duty during these cases and was described as a “constant malevolent presence” in the neonatal unit. Prosecutors argued that Letby harmed the babies in ways that were difficult to detect and convinced colleagues that the collapses and deaths were normal.
Senior doctors have come forward, stating that they raised concerns about Letby as early as October 2015. They believe that if their concerns had been taken seriously, some of the deaths could have been prevented.
The Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, has expressed shock and horror at the crimes and has pledged to introduce measures to ensure convicts attend their sentencings in the future.