A NURSE found guilty of the murder of seven newborn babies and seven counts of attempted murder against six more children will be sentenced on Monday,
Lucy Letby, 33, of Arran Avenue in Hereford, ‘weaponised her craft to inflict harm, grief and death’, said a prosecutor.
Following the culmination of the 10-month trial on Friday, the British Government ordered an independent inquiry into the circumstances behind the deaths at the Countess of Chester hospital.
"Lucy Letby sought to deceive her colleagues and pass off the harm she caused as nothing more than a worsening of each baby's existing vulnerability," said Pascale Jones, a Senior Crown Prosecutor.
"In her hands, innocuous substances like air, milk, fluids — or medication like insulin — would become lethal.
"She perverted her learning and weaponised her craft to inflict harm, grief and death.
"Time and again, she harmed babies, in an environment which should have been safe for them and their families.
"Her attacks were a complete betrayal of the trust placed in her.
"My thoughts are with families of the victims who may never have closure, but who now have answers to questions which had troubled them for years."
Doctors at the Countess of Chester Hospital Foundation Trust began to notice a significant rise in the number of babies who were dying or were unexpectedly collapsing during the period from June 2015 to June 2016.
When they were unable to find a medical explanation, police were alerted and an investigation followed by Cheshire Constabulary.
Letby was first arrested in July 2018 and interviewed by detectives before being bailed pending further enquiries.
She was arrested again in June 2019 and after being arrested a third time in November 2020, was subsequently charged with eight counts of murder and 10 counts of attempted murder.
Letby pleaded not guilty to all charges at a hearing at Manchester Crown Court in October 2021 while in June 2022, she had one verdict of not guilty recorded for one of the murder charges.
At trial, the prosecution was able to present evidence of Letby using various methods to attack babies.
These included injecting air and insulin into their bloodstream, infusing air into their gastrointestinal tract, force feeding an overdose of milk or fluids and impact-type trauma.
Her intention was to kill the babies while deceiving her colleagues into believing there was a natural cause.
Letby's defence argued that there was no evidence to suggest she had inflicted harm on any baby, citing 'sub-optimal care' by the hospital, issues with poor hygiene and a campaign of conspiracy against her by a number of senior doctors as reasons for the deaths and non-fatal collapses.
However, the prosecution used a string of key evidence against Letby, including medical records showing some babies recovered too quickly for their illness to have been a natural occurrence.
Letby also falsified and amended medical documents to hide her involvement with the babies or to distance herself from incidents where they became ill.
The prosecution also said text messages showed how Letby deceived colleagues into believing the inexplicable collapses were simply a natural worsening of children's underlying conditions.
Meanwhile, her Facebook searches revealed an 'intrusive curiosity' about the parents of the children, sometimes months after they had been on the unit.
Staff rotas were also used by the prosecution to show that Letby was the one common denominator in the series of deaths and sudden collapses.
They showed that many of the earlier incidents occurred overnight, but when Letby was put onto day shifts, the collapses and deaths began occurring in the day.
Finally, handwritten notes and diaries were used to give an insight into Letby's mindset following her attacks.
They included phrases such as 'I am evil I did this' and 'I killed them on purpose because I'm not good enough to care for them'.
"The details of this case are truly crushing," said Detective Chief Inspector Nicola Evans off Cheshire Constabulary.
"A trained nurse responsible for caring and protecting tiny, premature babies; a person who was in a position of trust, she abused that trust in the most unthinkable way.
"I cannot begin to understand what the families have had to endure over the past seven or eight years but we have been humbled by their composure and resilience throughout this whole process."
Announcing the government’s inquiry on Friday, Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said it will look at the circumstances surrounding the deaths and incidents, including how concerns raised by clinicians were dealt with.
"I would like to send my deepest sympathy to all the parents and families impacted by this horrendous case," said Mr Barclay.
"This inquiry will seek to ensure the parents and families impacted get the answers they need.
"I am determined their voices are heard, and they are involved in shaping the scope of the inquiry should they wish to do so.
"Following on from the work already underway by NHS England, it will help us identify where and how patient safety standards failed to be met and ensure mothers and their partners rightly have faith in our healthcare system."
Letby was found not guilty of two counts of attempted murder, while verdicts could not be reached on six further counts of attempted murder.
She will be sentenced at Manchester Crown Court tomorrow.