Friday, 19 July, 2024
HomeMedico-LegalUK nurse murdered seven babies, tried to kill others, court hears

UK nurse murdered seven babies, tried to kill others, court hears

The trial of a British nurse accused of murdering seven babies, attempting to murder 10 others at Countess of Chester Hospital – and who apparently also tried to kill one child at least three times, began this week.

Nick Johnson KC, prosecuting, said the nurse was a “constant malevolent presence” in the hospital’s neonatal unit, reports BBC News.

Lucy Letby, who pleaded not guilty in October last year, has denied 22 charges at the Manchester Crown Court.

Johnson said the Chester institution was a busy general hospital like so many others in the UK, but unlike many others, “within the neonatal unit, a poisoner was at work”.

He said before January 2015, the statistics for the mortality of babies in the neo-natal unit at the Countess of Chester were comparable to other units.

“However, over the next 18 months or so, there was a significant rise in the number of babies who were dying and in the number of serious catastrophic collapses.”

Medics also noted that babies who had collapsed “did not respond to appropriate and timely resuscitation” and that others “collapsed dramatically, but then, equally dramatically, recovered”.

Having searched for a cause, which they were unable to find, the consultants noticed that the inexplicable collapses and deaths had one common denominator: the presence of one of the neonatal nurses – Lucy Letby.

Johnson told the court that when medics could not account for the collapses and deaths, police were called in and conducted a “painstaking review”.

They uncovered that between mid-2015 and the middle of 2016, “somebody in the neonatal unit poisoned two children with insulin”, he said.

Among several cases detailed by the barrister, he told the jury that both babies were boys and both born as twins – but not to each other – and were poisoned within a few days of being born, their blood sugar levels dropping dangerously.

But they survived due to the skill of medical staff who appreciated low blood sugar can have natural causes, he said.

“What the staff did not realise was both cases were the result of someone poisoning them with insulin,” he added.

“Only a very restricted number of people could have been the poisoner, because entry to a neonatal unit is closely restricted. Lucy Letby was on duty when both were poisoned and we allege she was the poisoner,” Johnson said.

He said both of the twins had baby brothers, who were both also allegedly attacked by Letby – one of whom did not survive.

The court heard they had air injected into the bloodstream – what doctors call an air embolus.

Johnson said the deaths and collapses were “no accident”.

He added that said sometimes babies were injected with air and on other occasions fed with insulin or too much milk.

He told the court: “There were varying means by which these babies were attacked, but the constant presence was Lucy Letby. When she was moved on to day shifts, the collapses and deaths moved to the day shifts.”

He alleged that in some cases, she tried more than once to kill the same baby.

Letby studied for her nursing degree at the University of Chester and qualified a few years before the alleged events. The trial is expected to last up to six months.


BBC article – Nurse Lucy Letby poisoned babies with insulin, trial told (Open access)


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