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A disgraced British nurse appeared before a court on Thursday, standing accused of the murder of eight newborns who died in her care in a Cheshire hospital between 2015 and 2016.
Lucy Letby, 30, appeared in court via video conference on Thursday to face eight counts of murder and 10 additional counts of attempted murder, according to the BBC.
Letby, who worked in the neonatal unit at the Countess of Chester Hospital in Chester, England, is accused of killing five baby boys and three newborn girls. She has also been charged with the attempted murder of another woman and nine other babies — five boys and three girls, according to the broadcaster.
“The Crown Prosecution Service has authorized Cheshire police to charge a health care professional with murder in connection with an ongoing investigation into a number of baby deaths at the Countess of Chester hospital,” a police spokesperson said, according to The Guardian.
Letby was re-arrested on Tuesday after investigators probed the deaths of 17 newborns and 16 non-fatal collapses at the hospital between March 2015 and July 2016. She didn’t enter a plea during her Thursday court appearance, according to The Guardian. The judge told her that the day’s hearing was a preliminary hearing to send to the crown court.
The disgraced nurse, who only spoke briefly during the hearing, confirming basic details such as her name, date of birth, and address, as she sat alongside a defense lawyer.
Prosecutors later urged that Letby be remanded into custody for her own protection.
"The crown will also stress there is substantial grounds to believe for her own protection this defendant should be remanded into custody," prosecutor Pascale Jones said, according to the BBC.
Her attorney Richard Thomas didn’t apply for bail, according to The Guardian. She was later remanded.
"This is an extremely difficult time for all the families and it is important to remember that, at the heart of this, there are a number of bereaved families seeking answers as to what happened to their children," Detective Chief Inspector Paul Hughes said following Letby’s arrest, according to the BBC. “Parents of all the babies have been kept fully updated on this latest development and they are continuing to be supported throughout the process by specially trained officers.”
Lawyers for the victims’ families also said relatives are closely following the unfolding trial.
“Our clients are relieved that we are one step closer to getting the answers they have long-since been waiting for,” Robyn Smith, a lawyer representing some of the victims, told The Guardian. “We await the outcome of the criminal proceedings and will of course be supporting our clients through this traumatic process.”
Other attorneys hired by the victims’ families said relatives of the dead newborns are “overwhelmed'' now that Letby’s trial is underway.
“All the families now have hope that they can finally start to learn the truth of what happened in the first days of their children’s lives,” Neil Fearn, another lawyer, told The Guardian. “We have been working with the families for many years on these cases and they have had to live with the consequences for all that time.”
Letby was first hired by Countess of Chester Hospital in 2011, according to The Guardian. She grew up in the small city of Hereford, which is about 130 miles northwest of London.
“We acknowledge the new and significant development in this case, which is of serious concern to the Trust,” Chief Executive Dr. Susan Gilby said in a statement posted to the hospital’s website. “We are fully supportive and respectful of the judicial processes and as such will not be making any further comments at this stage. Our thoughts continue to be with all the families involved.”
A spokesperson for the hospital didn’t respond to Oxygen.com’s request for comment on Thursday.
Letby is expected to appear in-person at Chester crown court on Friday afternoon, the BBC reported.
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