Lucy Letby: All You Need to Know About the Nurse Who Murdered 7 Infants in U.K. Hospital

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Nurse Lucy Letby has been considered one of the U.K.’s most prolific child killers, after she was convicted of murdering seven infants and attempting to murder six others in August 2023 as a neonatal nurse at Chester Hospital in Cheshire, England.

She was subsequently sentenced to life in prison and is considered one of the most prolific child killers in United Kingdom history.

According to PEOPLE, Letby was found guilty of killing seven infants — five boys and two girls — while they were in her care in the neonatal unit of Chester Hospital in 2015 and 2016. She faced a total of 22 charges related to those deaths as well as the attempted murder of 10 more infants. During her trial, which began in October 2022, several colleagues testified to witnessing unusual behavior from the former nurse. She was eventually convicted of 14 of those possible 22 counts.

According to several media outlets, Letby is currently seeking permission to file an appeal against her convictions.

In one instance of attempted murder, Letby tried to murder an infant, referred to as Child G, while the baby’s assigned nurse was on a break. Under Letby’s care, expert witness Dr. Dewi Evans testified the baby received “far more milk” than prescribed, and that the overfeeding couldn’t have been an accident but was an “intent to harm,” per the BBC. That baby survived, but seven others did not.

In another instance, when an infant was in distress, Letby “told off” a coworker who attempted to assist. “I was shocked because you can’t have enough help in that situation,” Lisa Walker testified, according to the BBC. “[I was] quite taken aback and shocked because it’s something you would not expect a nurse to say.”

Here’s everything to know about Lucy Letby’s murder trial and crimes.

Who is Lucy Letby and where did she work?

Lucy Letby
Lucy Letby. SWNS

Lucy Letby, 33, was a neonatal nurse from Chester, a city near Liverpool in the north of England who began working in the neonatal unit at Countess of Chester Hospital in 2011. In a 2013 profile with the Chester Standard, Letby described her job as “caring for a wide range of babies requiring various levels of support.”

Why was there a sudden rise in infant mortalities in Chester Hospital?

Before January 2015, prosecutor Johnson said, the deaths in Chester Hospital’s neonatal unit were statistically comparable to other hospitals. However, during the time Letby was a neonatal nurse, he explained, there was a “significant rise” in the number of “babies who were dying and in the number of serious catastrophic collapses.”

Johnson added that consultants concluded the babies’ deaths were “not medically explicable and were the result of the actions of Lucy Letby.”

What was Lucy Letby accused of?

Letby was accused of murdering seven infants and attempting to kill 10 more between 2015 to 2016. The cause of these seven deaths were noted as being given excess milk, air, insulin or fluid.

Among the victims were two babies from a set of triplets, Child P and Child O. Child O suffered “acute deterioration,” according to the BBC, and Letby allegedly asked a doctor if the baby was “leaving alive.”

Child H, the third triplet, was given an excess of air and clear liquid, endangering its life. Letby allegedly made two attempts to murder the premature infant. The baby was removed from the hospital at the insistence of the parents and made a “rapid recovery,” according to the BBC.

Healthcare Worker Has been Arrested In Probe Of Baby Deaths At The Countess Of Chester Hospital
Police search Lucy Letby’s home. CHRISTOPHER FURLONG/GETTY IMAGES

Some of the children, prosecutors say, survived multiple attacks before dying. “The collapses of all 17 children concerned were not ‘naturally occurring tragedies,’ ” Johnson told the jury during Letby’s trial. “They were all the work, we say, of the woman in the dock, who we say was the constant, malevolent presence when things took a turn for the worse for these 17 children.”

Another baby, known as Child G, survived three alleged attacks, her parents testified in court in December. They believe Letby intentionally overfed the infant milk and air, leading to “irreversible brain damage” and quadriplegia cerebral palsy.

Letby was found guilty of 14 of the 22 counts she faced following a 10-month trial at Manchester Crown Court, according to a statement from the Crown Prosecution Service. The 11-person jury was undecided on the attempted murder of a further four babies.

How was Lucy Letby caught?

Testifying to prosecutors, Dr. Ravi Jayaram, a senior doctor at Cheshire Hospital, said he raised suspicions about Letby to the hospital administration in 2015 and 2016, but was ignored for months. In one instance, Dr. Jayaram claimed that he observed Letby standing over an infant whose breathing tube was dislodged, watching the baby’s oxygen levels dropping and doing nothing. The doctor intervened, but the baby died three days later.

The Cheshire Constabulary launched its own investigation into the deaths in May 2017, after they were alerted to Letby’s suspicious behavior. She has since been arrested three times on suspicion of involvement with the deaths: first in 2018 and again in 2019, though she was released both times. She was remanded in custody following her November 2020 arrest.

When did Lucy Letby’s trial take place?

Letby’s trial began in October 2022. She was tried at the Manchester Crown Court in England, and was convicted on Friday, Aug. 18, 2023 and eventually sentenced to life in prison on Aug. 21, 2023.

“Because the seriousness of your offenses is exceptionally high, I direct that the early release provisions do not apply,” Judge Justice Goss told the court during her sentencing. “The order of the court therefore is whole life order on each and every offense and you will spend the rest of your life in prison.”

Letby pleaded not guilty to all 22 charges. The prosecution presented handwritten notes found in Letby’s home, in which she describes herself as a “horrible evil person” and says she “killed them on purpose.” But other notes purportedly proclaimed her innocence. “I haven’t done anything wrong and they have no evidence so why have I had to hide away?” the notes read.

“Well, ladies and gentlemen, that in a nutshell is your task in this case,” prosecutor Nick Johnson told the jury when he presented the evidence in February 2023. “Whether or not she did these dreadful things is the decision you will have to make when you have heard all the evidence.”

What did Lucy say in defense of her crimes?

In May 2023, Letby took the stand in her own defense, telling the jury that she meant no harm during her time working at the Countess of Chester Hospital. “I only ever did my best to care for them,” Letby said of the babies in her care. “That’s completely against everything that being a nurse is. I am there to care not to harm.”

Later that month, Letby claimed in court that the infant deaths could be related to alleged plumbing issues in the hospital.

“We used to have raw sewage coming out of the sinks [and] coming out on the floor in nursery one,” she alleged, also claiming that staff being unable to wash their hands could be “a contributory issue.”

However, when prosecutor Nick Johnson delivered his closing arguments in June 2023, he said that Letby used lethal air injection on at least 12 of her alleged victims. Johnson claimed air injection was “one of her favorite ways of killing or trying to kill children in this case.”

What evidence did the prosecution have against Lucy Letby?

Lucy Letby
Note written by Lucy Letby. CROWN PROSECUTION SERVICE

Prosecutor Johnson described Letby as a “malevolent presence” in the hospital, claiming that the killer nurse falsified her notes to “cover her tracks.”

The prosecution also showed the jury text messages sent from Letby to a friend in which the former nurse wrote she he had a “mini meltdown” over what happened at work. The texts were exchanged within weeks of the deaths of three infants.

Jurors were also shown Post-it notes written by Letby that prosecutors say were found during a search of her home. One note called Letby a “horrible evil person” who isn’t “good enough, while another read, “I haven’t done anything wrong and they have no evidence so why have I had to hide away?”

Former coworkers also testified against Letby. On Oct. 24, 2022, one colleague testified that the health of an infant girl, identified only as Child B, began to decline rapidly under Letby’s care. Child B’s twin brother had already died and when the baby girl became sick, the colleague’s first thought was “not again,” because there was such an unusually high number of unexplained infant deaths in the unit.

“Babies can be very poorly quickly but there is usually some indication that is happening,” she testified. “We had no undue concerns.”

Later in the trial, Letby’s supervisor testified that she observed Letby spending an unusual amount of time with a premature baby whom she wasn’t assigned to care for. That baby unexpectedly declined in health and died. Her supervisor claimed that Letby spent time with the family of the baby who eventually died rather than her own designated baby. “I asked Lucy to focus on [her designated baby] because I was still concerned about him,” testified the supervising nurse, whose name is being protected per British law. “However, Lucy went into the family room a few times and I asked her to come out and leave that family with [the assigned nurse] instead.”

In the instance of Child E — an infant who weighed less than 3 lbs. and another one of Letby’s alleged victims — his mother testified that she found her son in a state of distress, bleeding from the mouth, but Letby dismissed her concerns. “Trust me, I’m a nurse,” the killer nurse said. The infant died five hours later, and Letby is accused of murdering him by injecting air into his bloodstream.

Letby also wrote a sympathy card to another set of parents whose child she killed. “There are no words to make this time any easier,” Letby wrote. “It was a real privilege to care for [child] and get to know you as a family — a family who always put [child] first and did everything possible for her. She will always be part of your lives and we will never forget her. Thinking of you today and always.”

In April 2023, jurors were shown images of Letby’s diary, which detail the initials of the babies she’s accused of killing.

Prosecutors also shared a document in which some of the babies’ names were written, alongside what they say are Letby’s words “kill me” and “I don’t know if I killed them. Maybe I did. Maybe this is all down to me.”