Oli Dugmore 4am - 7am
Lucy Letby's childhood friend maintains baby killer nurse is innocent and claims police scapegoated her
21 August 2023, 22:05
A school friend of Lucy Letby has maintained she was innocent, despite the former nurse being found guilty killing seven babies and trying to kill six more.
Listen to this article
Letby, Britain's worst baby killer of modern times, will die in prison after being given a whole life sentence for her crimes on Monday.
The friend, identified only as Dawn, who was at school with Letby, 33, said she would "never believe that she’s guilty".
"We know she couldn’t have done anything that she’s accused of, so without a doubt we stand by her," she said.
Ms Howe added: “I grew up with Lucy, and not a single thing that I’ve ever seen or witnessed of Lucy would let me for a moment believe she is capable of the things she’s accused of.
“It is the most out-of-character accusation that you could ever put against Lucy.
"Think of your most kind, gentle, soft friend and think that they’re being accused of harming babies," she told the BBC's Panorama show.
Ms Howe said police were "trying to build a case, to find someone culpable to find someone to blame."
Letby's murder and attempted murder spree came between June 2015 and 2016, at the Countess of Chester Hospital. Questions have been raised over how she got away with her crimes for so long, despite senior doctors voicing concerns.
The woman in charge of nursing at the hospital has been suspended from her current position.
Sentencing Letby to spend the rest of her life in prison on Monday, Mr Justice Goss said her motive for killing the children will never be known.
He described the killings as "a cruel, calculated and cynical campaign of child murder."
"You have no remorse. There are no mitigating factors... You will spend the rest of your life in prison," said the judge.
Some of the children she tried to kill have been left permanently disabled. One parent described the murder of her son as ‘like something from a horror story.’
"The lives of newborn babies were ended almost as soon as they began and life-long harm has been done," the judge said.
"Loving parents have been robbed of their children, and others have to live with the consequences... siblings have to live without their brothers and sisters.
"The reasons for your actions are known only to you."He said she acted in a way that was "completely contrary" to normal human instincts of caring for babies.
He said Letby ended the lives of babies "as soon as they began" and robbed "loving parents of their cherished children."
He said Letby committed a "gross breach" of the trust that all citizens place in those who work in the medical and caring professions.
"The babies you harmed were born prematurely and some were at risk of not surviving but in each case you deliberately harmed them, intending to kill them," he said.
Mr Justice Goss told Manchester Crown Court: "There was premeditation, calculation and cunning in your actions."
Letby is the most prolific child serial killer in modern British history.
Whole-life orders are the most severe punishment available in the country's criminal justice system and are reserved for those who commit the most heinous crimes.
Letby joins Myra Hindley, Rose West and knife killer Joanna Dennehy among the only female killers to be given whole life prison terms.
After sentencing, Senior Crown Prosecutor Pascale Jones, of CPS Mersey Cheshire said: "My thoughts remain with the families of the victims who have demonstrated enormous strength in the face of extraordinary suffering. I hope that the trial has brought answers which had long eluded them."
Baby murderer Lucy Letby to spend rest of her life in jail for ‘evil’ crimes
“Today’s sentence means Letby will never again be able to inflict the suffering she did while working as a neonatal nurse. She has rightly been brought to justice by the courts.
Earlier, the families of Letby's victims addressed an empty dock as they told her "you are nothing" and "you are evil". More than a dozen relatives of Letby's victims sat in the public gallery for the hearing on Monday and eight jurors returned to see the sentencing.
The mother of Child E, a premature-born boy who died, and Child F, his twin brother who survived, told the court the nurse's refusal to appear was "just one final act of wickedness from a coward".