Ian Payne 4am - 7am
Healthcare professional re-arrested on suspicion of murder of eight babies
10 November 2020, 10:35 | Updated: 10 November 2020, 11:01
A healthcare professional has been re-arrested on suspicion of the murder of eight babies and the attempted murder of nine others in Cheshire.
Her arrest relates to an ongoing investigation into a number of baby deaths and non-fatal collapses at the neonatal unit in The Countess of Chester Hospital more than three years ago.
It is the third time the healthcare worker, who is understood to be nurse Lucy Letby, has been arrested in relation to the eight baby deaths but the two previous occasions came with separate additions.
In July 2018, she was arrested on suspicion of the murder of eight babies and the attempted murder of six others at the Chester hospital's neonatal unit. On that occasion, she was subsequently bailed pending further enquiries.
In June 2019, she was then re-arrested on suspicion of the murder of eight babies and the attempted murder of six more. This arrest was also in connection with the attempted murder of three additional babies.
On Tuesday, she was arrested once again on suspicion of the murder of eight babies and the attempted murder of nine others.
Cheshire Police said she remains in custody and is helping officers with their enquiries.
The parents of all the infants are being fully updated throughout the process and are being supported by specially trained officers.
Detective Chief Inspector Paul Hughes, who is in charge of the investigation, said: "Due to the nature of this investigation it is extremely challenging but it is important to remember that, despite the passage of time, it is very much active and ongoing.
“There are no set timescales and we remain committed to carrying out a thorough investigation.
“We fully appreciate that it continues to have a big impact on all those involved – including the families of the babies, staff and patients at the hospital as well as members of the public.
“For that reason, I would urge people to avoid any commentary or speculation online or otherwise regarding the investigation itself or the identity of anyone involved as this is unhelpful and it could cause distress to the parents of the babies. It could also impact on the ongoing criminal case moving forward.
“At this stage, I am unable to go into any further details about the investigation but as soon as I can provide any further updates I will do.”
Detectives launched an investigation into infant deaths at the hospital in May 2017, initially looking at the deaths of 15 babies between June 2015 and June 2016.
The probe later widened to the deaths of 17 babies and 16 non-fatal collapses between March 2015 and July 2016.
Following her previous arrests, Letby's home in the Blacon area of Chester was searched by police.
In a 2013 interview with the Chester and District Standard newspaper, the nurse, originally from Hereford, said she cared for babies requiring various levels of support.
She had worked at the unit as a student nurse during three years of training before qualifying as a children's nurse at the University of Chester in 2011.
Letby said she started working at the unit after graduating.
If anyone has any information they can get in touch with the investigation team via firstname.lastname@example.org or they can call the Cheshire Constabulary on 101 or anonymously, via Crimestoppers, on 0800 555 111.