Mother walked in on Lucy Letby trying to murder her baby but was told 'trust me, I’m a nurse', court told

11 October 2022, 11:54 | Updated: 11 October 2022, 16:29

Lucy Letby is on trial for the murder of seven babies
Lucy Letby is on trial for the murder of seven babies. Picture: Rex/Shutterstock/Alamy

By Asher McShane

A children's nurse charged with murdering five newborns was interrupted by the mother of one of her victims who paid her baby boy a visit at the neonatal unit, a court has heard.

Lucy Letby is accused of murdering five baby boys and two girls, and attempting to murder 10 other babies at Countess of Chester Hospital.

Manchester Crown Court was told child E's mother did not realise he was being attacked and was told by the nurse the blood from his mouth was due to a tube.

One night, his mother, who was an inpatient on the postnatal ward, decided to visit her twin sons in the neonatal unit.

The jury was told the mother interrupted Letby, who was in the process of attacking child E, but she did not realise he was being attacked.

The baby was acutely distressed and bleeding from his mouth and Letby tried to reassure his mother that the blood was due to a tube irritating his throat.

Jurors heard she said to the mother: "Trust me, I'm a nurse."

Following child E's death in the early hours of August 4, the Crown heard how Letby made "fraudulent" nursing notes which were "false, misleading and designed to cover her tracks".

The court also heard how Letby went on to show a "very unusual interest" in child E's family.

Nick Johnson KC noted social media searches of the family two days after the youngster's death, and again on numerous occasions in the following months, including "even on Christmas Day".

Earlier the court was told Letby, who is accused of murdering seven premature babies and attacking 10 others killed a five-day-old boy in intensive care by injecting air into his stomach through a nose tube.

She allegedly killed the baby boy, child C, just six days after murdering for the first time, when she killed another baby boy, child A, and days later attacked his twin sister, child B, while working at the neo-natal unit at the Countess of Chester Hospital.

Child C died because the air injected into his stomach made him unable to breathe and he suffered a cardiac arrest, Nick Johnson KC, told the jury on the second day of the prosecution opening at Manchester Crown Court.

The boy had been born prematurely at 30 weeks on June 10, 2015, weighing only 800 grams, but despite going into intensive care was in good condition.

Five days later, on the nightshift of June 14, Letby was supposed to be looking after another, more poorly baby, in another room.

But she was the only person in the room when Child C suddenly and unexpectedly collapsed.

Prosecutor Mr Johnson said: "Again, taking a step back, you can now see there was a pattern emerging.

"Lucy Letby was the only person working on the night shift when child C died who had also been working on either of the shifts when child A died and his twin sister child B collapsed.

"What we are going to see, as we progress, is that Lucy Letby's method of attacking the babies in the neo-natal unit was beginning to develop.

"She had injected air into the bloodstream of the first twins, child A and B, and varied this approach by injecting air into child C's stomach via the nasogastric tube."

Mr Johnson said an independent pathologist - when reviewing the case - concluded Child C died because his breathing became compromised and he suffered a cardiac arrest.

The prosecutor told jurors: "If you are trying to murder a child in a neo-natal unit, it is a fairly effective way of doing it. It doesn't really leave much trace."

He said on the afternoon of June 14, 2015 - hours after Child C died - the defendant searched on Facebook for the youngster's parents.

Mr Johnson suggested from the timings that this was "one of the first things she did when waking up" after she had earlier finished her shift at about 8am.

Letby, 32, denies seven counts of murder and 10 counts of attempted murder.

The trial continues