Lucy Letby tells murder trial that baby boy's death at start of her shift was a 'huge unexpected shock'

5 May 2023, 15:58 | Updated: 5 May 2023, 16:42

Nurse Lucy Letby says the baby boy's death was a 'huge unexpected shock'.
Nurse Lucy Letby says the baby boy's death was a 'huge unexpected shock'. Picture: Alamy

By Jenny Medlicott

Nurse Lucy Letby said it was a “huge unexpected shock” when a baby boy died not long after she started her shift on a neonatal unit.

Lucy Letby is on her second day of giving evidence at Manchester Crown Court, where she said the day a baby boy died while on her shift she had “walked through the door into this awful situation”.

The baby boy, known as Child A, was a newborn twin and died on June 8 2015, just over 24 hours after he was born.

Ms Letby, 33, faces accusations of murdering seven babies and attempting to kill 10 others – all of which she denies.

The accusations include the killing of five boys, two girls and attempting to murder another five boys and five girls.

Prosecution have alleged the nurse was a “constant malevolent presence” at Countess of Chester Hospital where she worked.

Some of the methods the prosecution have accused the defendant of using include injecting babies with air and poisoning them with insulin.

On the day of Child A’s death Ms Letby said she received a text in the morning asking if she was available to work and agreed as she was “very happy to help where [she] could”.

She later arrived on shift at 19:30 BST where she was handed Child A to take care of and shared care with fellow nurse Melanie Taylor, both of which gave the child intravenous fluids.

It was when she started doing her observations of Child A that the baby became “jittery”, jurors heard.

The baby’s alarm monitor then began to sound, Child A changed colour and became apnoeic.

Ms Letby said she was 'stunned' by the baby's death.
Ms Letby said she was 'stunned' by the baby's death. Picture: Alamy
Neo-natal nurse Lucy Letby is on trial accused of murdering seven babies
Neo-natal nurse Lucy Letby is on trial accused of murdering seven babies. Picture: Alamy

Read More: ‘There are no words to make this easier’: Lucy Letby wrote card to parents of baby she is accused of murdering

Read More: Nurse Lucy Letby told police it was 'bad luck' that three babies died in two weeks while she was on duty

Child A’s “hands and feet were white”, she went on, so she began using a neopuff, which is a mechanical device designed specifically for neonatal resuscitation.

Ms Letby said an emergency crash call went out “very soon after”, which called on the neonatal team and doctors to assist with the resuscitation.

The nurse is accused of intravenously introducing air into the bloodstream of Child A.

Describing her feelings at the time, she said: “It was a huge unexpected shock, it felt like I literally just walked through the door of the shift and this was happening.”

She also said she was “Stunned, it was a complete shock for all of us.

"It felt like we'd walked through the door into this awful situation. It was the first time I met [Child A] and his parents… it was a huge shock."

Child A’s sister, known as Child B, also collapsed just 28 hours after her brother’s death.

The court heard that Child B’s heartbeat suddenly dropped and “looked very like her brother did the night before”, according to another nurse who treated Child B.

But Ms Letby said she doesn’t “have much recollection” of what happened with Child B, other than running a blood gas for her at around midnight on 10 June.

Manchester Crown Court where Lucy Letby trial is taking place
Manchester Crown Court where Lucy Letby trial is taking place. Picture: Alamy

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When the baby girl collapsed, Ms Letby said the baby’s skin appeared “mottled”, “dark” and “purple” in colour – unlike her brother who was “pale and white”.

She went to get a camera to document the skin change, which is standard practice for sudden changes, but said by the time she returned the baby “had stabilised and her colour had returned to normal”.

The trial continues.

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