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Prosecutors Claim British Nurse Tried To Kill Same Premature Baby Twice During Ongoing Trial
Lucy Letby's murder trial began in October. The 32-year-old is accused of murdering seven babies and trying to kill 10 others.
Prosecutors claim a British nurse attempted to kill the same premature baby twice, according to the BBC — the latest allegation by prosecutors in the case of Lucy Letby, who's on trial for allegedly murdering seven babies and attempting to murder 10 others between 2015 and 2016.
Letby’s murder trial began in Manchester Crown Court in October of 2022 and is expected to last at least six months, according to the Chester Standard.
Prosecutors allege Letby, 32, first attacked a premature baby, known as “Child H,” on Sept. 26, 2015, and then again the following morning, at Countess of Chester Hospital where she worked, the BBC reported.
In a statement read to the court, "Child H"’s mother said the baby was born six weeks prematurely after she was induced due to concerns about her blood sugar levels, but doctors initially said the baby was “absolutely fine,” according to the BBC. But soon after birth, the mother said the baby “began to look pale and began to make grunting noises.”
The child was put into the neonatal unit, where Letby worked, and was put on a ventilator.
Registrar Dr. Matthew Neame testified in court about what happened to the child, telling the court there was a “profound” drop in the child’s oxygen levels and heart rate, and her breathing tube was blocked with secretions. A few hours later, the child had more drops while on a ventilator, and her heart rate plunged to 40 beats per minute. Full resuscitation, including chest compressions and doses of adrenaline was needed for six minutes, according to the BBC.
The mother told the court in a statement that the staff were not able to explain why the baby suffered a cardiac collapse, the BBC reported.
“The distinction is the lack of clear explanation for the event at this time and the fact that it has happened again in a relatively short space of time,” Neame testified, according to the BBC.
Nurse Shelley Tomlins, the child’s designated nurse on the nightshift, said she could offer no explanation as to why the child’s blood oxygen levels dropped, the BBC reported.
Dr. Allison Ventress, who responded to one of the crash calls for “Child H,” agreed with Letby’s lawyer that desaturations in babies like “Child H” were not “uncommon,” when questioned during testimony, according to the BBC. She also agreed with Letby’s lawyer that all of the procedures were “likely to put strain on a little body like hers,” and added “Child H” was “clearly unwell.”
Letby’s lawyers alleged to jurors that “Child H” was another example of “sub-optimal care” by Countess of Chester Hospital, and was “nothing to do with Lucy Letby,” according to the BBC.
Letby’s lawyers also claimed to jurors that the location of a chest drain inserted by a senior doctor contributed to “Child H”’s cardiac arrest. Lawyer Ben Myers told the court that according to best medical practice, a drain should be inserted in the fifth intercostal space. Dr. Ravi Jayaram, a pediatrician who assisted with the procedure, testified the drain was not in that area, but said it was “still in a good position” and “was working,” adding “it wasn’t in the wrong place.” Dr. Jayaram also testified he had “never” witnessed a drain interfere with the heart in the way Letby’s lawyer suggested, according to the BBC.
The child was transferred to Wirral’s Arrowe Park hospital where she “improved dramatically,” her parents said, before she was discharged the following month, according to the BBC.
Jurors were shown Facebook messages from Yvonne Griffiths, who was then the neonatal unit deputy manager, to Letby, the morning after the baby’s first collapse, the BBC reported. Griffiths thanked Letby for “all your hard work these last few nights.”
Letby wrote back: “That’s really nice to hear as I gather you are aware of some of the not so positive comments that have been made recently regarding my role which I have found quite upsetting. Our job is a pleasure to do and just hope I do the best for babies and their family.”
A fellow nurse, Christopher Booth, told Letby’s defense lawyer that Letby had completed an overtime shift that week, but said that wasn’t unusual for her, the BBC reported. When the lawyer asked if Letby became upset over what happened to the baby, Booth allegedly said:
“Oh definitely. It was a harrowing time. We were all upset. Without a doubt, Lucy as well.”
Expert witnesses have previously testified about what allegedly happened to other babies under Letby’s care, including “Child G,” who Letby allegedly attempted to murder three times in Sept. 2015.
The prosecution alleged Letby overfed the child with milk through a nasogastric tube, or injected air into the same tube. Jurors were shown a nursing note from Letby which said the child “had two large projectile milk vomits” and had “apnea” for a short period of time, the BBC reported.
Dr. Dewi Evans testified, in his professional opinion, the child was given “far more milk” during her tube feed than the planned 40 ml, and that’s what caused the collapse, according to the BBC.
“If you have been given 40 ml of milk then it would not explain how she had two large projectile vomits and still 30 ml left in her stomach,” he testified, according to the BBC.
“Child G” survived but suffered irreversible brain damage and was left with disabilities including quadriplegic cerebral palsy. Jurors heard testimony Letby helped create a celebratory 100 days old birthday banner for the infant before allegedly trying to kill her, according to previous Oxygen.com reporting.
Jurors have been hearing testimony against Letby from the prosecution for months. In October, prosecutors accused Letby of being “caught” attacking a newborn twin by the child’s mother, although the mother didn’t realize it at the time, according to the Chester Standard. The mother said her child was “acutely distressed” and bleeding from the mouth, when she walked into the room and saw Letby with the child. Jurors heard testimony that the child suffered blood loss at an equivalent of 25 percent of its blood volume and was later pronounced dead. Doctors testified “Child E” was a high-risk infant who had shown signs of a serious gastro-intestinal disorder, and the parents did not have a post-mortem done on the child’s body.
Prosecutors also accused Letby of injecting air into newborn twins, named “Child A” and “Child B” leading one to die, and one to suffer a non-fatal collapse, according to the Chester Standard. “Child A” allegedly died just 90 minutes after being in Letby’s care, and “Child B” suffered a collapse 28 hours later, when Letby was present.
Prosecutors told jurors “Child A” was “stable” when put into Letby’s care, and Letby began administering intravenous fluids, and just minutes later Letby called a doctor as the boy was deteriorating. Doctors observed odd color to the baby’s skin, according to the Standard.
“This proved to be the first of a series of similar presentations on the skin of babies suddenly and catastrophically collapsing at the Countess of Chester Hospital neonatal unit over the succeeding months,” prosecutor Nicholas Johnson told jurors, according to the Standard. “It is a hallmark of some of the cases in which Lucy Letby injected air into the blood streams of some of these small babies.”
Johnson told the jury Letby was “a poisoner at work.”
“We say that there is no plausible alternative to an air injection. The fact that it happened in two cases just over 24 hours apart shows that these were no accidents,” Johnson said, according to the Standard. “Lucy Letby was the only person present [with Child A] at the time he collapsed ... and was in the room when the same happened to [Child B].”
Prosecutors also accused Letby of using insulin to try and murder “Child F.” The child was prescribed a nutrition bag of fluids, recorded as administered by Letby, and later had an unexpected drop in blood sugar level and surge in heart rate, according to the Standard. Checks on the baby’s insulin levels showed “conclusive evidence” someone had given the child insulin to poison him, according to prosecutors.
Jurors previously saw a note prosecutors say was written by Letby, where she allegedly wrote, “I don’t deserve to live. I killed them on purpose because I’m not good enough,” according to the Standard. She also allegedly wrote, “I am a horrible evil person” and in capital letters, wrote “I AM EVIL I DID THIS.”
The trial continued Tuesday.