Who is Lucy Letby? How the 'kind and geeky girl' became the UK's most prolific child killer

18 August 2023, 14:00

Lucy Letby
Lucy Letby. Picture: Alamy/Handout

By Kit Heren

Lucy Letby has become Britain's most prolific child killer in modern history after being found guilty of murdering seven babies and trying to kill six more.

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In a trial that lasted for many months, Letby was accused of injecting her victims with air or poisoning them with insulin while working at the Countess of Chester Hospital between June 2015 and 2016.

She was found guilty today of ‘playing god,’ stalking hospital wards of the neo-natal unit of the Countess of Chester Hospital, injecting air and fluids including insulin and milk into babies in her care in a horrifying campaign of death between June 2015 and June 2016.

But who is Lucy Letby, and how did she come to be the UK's most notorious nurse?

Read more: Lucy Letby said she was 'back with a bang' as she came back from holiday and 'killed two triplets', prosecutors claim

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

Lucy Letby in court
Lucy Letby in court. Picture: Alamy

Where did Lucy Letby grow up, and what was she like as a child?

Lucy Letby grew in Hereford, a small English cathedral city on the border with Wales.

Described by childhood friends as a "geeky girl" who was quiet and unassuming, she had long harboured ambitions of becoming a nurse.

Others called her "sweet", "studious" and "kind" while she was studying at a local comprehensive.

Letby was part of a tight-knit group of friends who called themselves the "miss-match family," the Times reported.

Read more: 'You are a murderer': Lucy Letby clashes with prosecutor as he accuses her of misleading jury with 'sob story'

Read more: Nurse Lucy Letby 'murdered baby while mother was on school run' and ‘attacked children after parents left cotsides'

Lucy Letby denies murdering seven babies and attempting to murder a further 10
Lucy Letby denies murdering seven babies and attempting to murder a further 10. Picture: Alamy

When she left school she began studying at the University of Chester, a two-hour drive to the north of her home town.

At university, she remained hard-working and was always the first home from a night out, so as to be ready to keep studying the next day.

None of her friends imagined that she would later be accused of being the UK's most prolific child killer.

Lucy Letby is accused of murdering the babies at the  Countess of Chester Hospital
Lucy Letby is accused of murdering the babies at the Countess of Chester Hospital. Picture: Getty

When did Lucy Letby start working at the Countess of Chester Hospital?

Lucy Letby began work as a children's nurse at the Countess of Chester Hospital in 2011, when she graduated from university.

She also did a training placement at Liverpool Women’s Hospital.

Letby had a clean record with the Nursing and Midwifery Council during her time at the hospital.

She also helped to raise £3 million for the neonatal unit at the hospital two years after starting work as a nurse.

In a short 2013 interview with local paper the Chester Standard to promote the fundraiser, Letby described her job.

"My role involves caring for a wide range of babies requiring various levels of support," she said.

"Some are here for a few days, others for many months and I enjoy seeing them progress and supporting their families.

"I am currently undergoing extra training in order to develop and enhance my knowledge and skills within the Intensive Care area and have recently completed a placement at Liverpool Women’s Hospital."

Lucy Letby
Lucy Letby . Picture: Alamy

How did Lucy Letby come under suspicion?

The Countess of Chester hospital began to see an unusually high number of baby deaths in 2016. The hospital saw 15 baby deaths and 17 life-threatening incidents in the 12 months to June that year.

In 2016, the hospital stopped accepting children born before 32 weeks of pregnancy, in part because of the high baby mortality rate.

An independent review did not find any "single cause or factor... to explain the increase".

The hospital called in Cheshire Police to investigate in 2017, saying in a statement that this was to "seek assurances that enable us to rule out unnatural causes of death."

Lucy Letby
Lucy Letby. Picture: Shutterstock

When was Lucy Letby arrested?

Lucy Letby was moved from nursing to clerical work in 2016. She continued in this role until 2018, when she was arrested.

Senior doctors at the hospital said that they moved her away from working with children because they feared the babies' deaths were "the result of the actions of Lucy Letby".

Letby was arrested on July 3, 2018, a year into the police investigation. She was bailed three days later and rearrested in June 2019, and again in November 2020.

She was charged with eight counts of murder and ten counts of attempted murder, although one murder count was dropped by the time the case got to trial.

Letby was denied bail following her 2020 arrest.

Police at the home of Lucy Letby in Chester
Police at the home of Lucy Letby in Chester. Picture: Alamy

When did Lucy Letby's trial begin?

Lucy Letby's trial began in October 2022 at Manchester Crown Court.

After nine months, the jury were sent out to consider their verdict on July 10 this year and the guilty verdicts were returned today on Friday August 18.