Jury retires in trial of nurse Lucy Letby accused of murdering seven babies

10 July 2023, 14:23

Jurors trying nurse Lucy Letby have retired to consider their verdicts
Jurors trying nurse Lucy Letby have retired to consider their verdicts. Picture: social media/alamy

By StephenRigley

Jurors in the trial of an NHS nurse accused of murdering seven vulnerable babies in a neonatal hospital unit have retired to consider their verdict.

Lucy Letby, 32, allegedly injected her victims with air or poisoned them with insulin while working at the Countess of Chester Hospital between June 2015 and 2016.

She is also accused of attempting to murder another 10 babies, several of which had been born prematurely or had complex health needs.

The 33-year-old, originally from Hereford, has denied all charges.

Manchester Crown Court
Manchester Crown Court. Picture: Alamy

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Mr Justice Goss told the jury of eight women and four men at Manchester Crown Court that they must "be sure of the defendant's guilt or not" in all the allegations.

The jury has heard nine months of evidence, including claims Ms Letby deliberately injected babies with air, force fed others milk and poisoned some with insulin.

Ms Letby has insisted she did not harm any of the babies and has said there were issues of poor hygiene and staffing levels in the hospital. She has also accused senior doctors of mounting a conspiracy against her to mask failings in care.

Judge Mr Justice James Goss said many of the children had suffered "unexpected life-threatening collapses" and reminded the jury that the prosecution had argued there were many "common factors".

Prosecutor Nick Johnson KC has said Ms Letby had been on shift at the time when each baby collapsed.

Mr Johnson also included 11 other common themes, from unusual skin discolouration to the babies collapsing just after having been visited by parents. The judge said prosecutors had argued "this is not a series of unconnected events".

He said they claim that when put in context with expert evidence, post-mortem examination findings and the discovery of notes and nursing handover sheets at Ms Letby's home, the jury "can be sure the defendant committed all the offences".

He reminded the jury that Ms Letby had denied harming any of the children and her case was that she was a hardworking and dedicated nurse.

During the trial Ms Letby said the handover sheets recovered from her home were taken from the hospital in error.

The judge also referred to notes found at Ms Letby's home in which she wrote, among other things, "I am evil, I did this".

The defence's case, he said, was that these were a "product of despair" written after she was removed from frontline nursing duties and placed in a clerical role.

He also said the defence rejected the prosecution's list of "common factors" in the cases, saying they did not establish a pattern.

The defence have said the jury cannot be sure in any event of Ms Letby's guilt.

The judge ended by instructing the jury to reach "unanimous verdicts on each count on the indictment".