Lucy Letby on the stand: nurse gives her side of the story

The 33-year-old accused of murdering seven babies faces cross-examination for the first time

Lucy Letby
Letby has been on trial at Manchester Crown Court since October last year
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The former neonatal nurse accused of murdering infants in her care has told a jury she is being targeted by a “gang of four” consultants and that she has “not attacked any children”.

Lucy Letby is on trial for the alleged murder of seven babies, and the attempted murder of a further ten, between June 2015 and June 2016 while working at the neonatal unit at the Countess of Chester Hospital. She denies all charges.

The trial began at Manchester Crown Court last October and Letby is being cross-examined by the prosecution for the first time.

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What has Letby said so far?

The 33-year-old former nurse “always wanted to work with children” and told the jury she had been “traumatised by her arrest” when in the witness box for the first time on 2 May, the BBC reported. She added the allegations against her were “sickening”.

Letby “broke down in tears” when recalling the moment she was arrested in July 2018. She said she was “led away in her pyjamas” before she was then told of the charges.

The prosecution had previously shown the jury notes that were found at Letby’s home, which read “I am evil” and “I killed him on purpose because I’m not good enough”.

When asked why she wrote “not good enough”, Letby told the jury this was “the overwhelming thought and feeling I had about myself at that point”. She added she felt she “somehow had been incompetent and done something wrong, which affected those babies”.

Letby told the jury “she had probably cared for hundreds of babies at the hospital”, said Sky News, and that she “only did my best to care for them”. She added the allegations were “completely against everything that being a nurse is”.

How has she responded to cross-examination?

When Nick Johnson KC, who leads the prosecution, first began questioning Letby, she was “crying in the witness box”, said the BBC, prompting Johnson to ask why “she cries when talking about herself but not about the babies”. She denied this, adding “she has cried whilst talking about the babies”.

Concerned by a “coincidence between unexplained deaths, serious collapses and the presence of Lucy Letby”, consultant Ravi Jayaram told the court he walked in on Letby “as she allegedly attempted to kill a newborn baby girl” in February 2016, ITV News reported in October last year. He “found child K’s breathing tube had been dislodged”, he said.

Johnson asked Letby “why some of her colleagues on the neonatal unit suspected her of murder”, The Guardian added.

Letby said the incident “never happened” and agreed when Johnson proposed whether there was “some sort of agreement between medical staff to get you”. She continued to say they “apportioned blame on to me” to “cover failings at the hospital”.

When police searched Letby’s home, they found 257 handover sheets relating to babies on the neonatal unit. Johnson accused her of lying when she previously remarked “she didn’t keep them on purpose”. She also denied that she “fished anything out of the confidential bin”, in reference to Baby M’s blood gas reading, the Daily Mail reported, also denying “it was for [her] little collection”, as the prosecution put it to her.

What has Letby said about the victims?

Letby’s defence, led by Ben Myers KC, “outlined its arguments with regard to each baby involved in the case, one by one”, the BBC reported.

When asked about Child H, who suffered a severe collapse on 26 September 2015, Letby “denied having any knowledge of why the incident occurred”, said the i news site. She also asked bosses for help “because of the complex level of care required” and said that “the unit was struggling with a lack of staff”, she told the jury.

She added that Child F and L were “deliberately poisoned with insulin”, said The Guardian, “but not by her”.

Johnson also suggested that Letby is the “only common feature” in the collapse of the 17 victims, said the Mail, and the “shift pattern gives us the answer” if the jury agrees a certain combination of babies was harmed. “Just because I was on shift doesn’t mean I have done anything,” Letby replied.

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Keumars Afifi-Sabet is a freelance writer at The Week Digital, and is the features editor on ITPro, another Future Publishing brand. As features editor, he commissions and publishes in-depth articles around a variety of areas including AI, cloud computing and cybersecurity. As a writer, he specialises in technology and current affairs. In addition to The Week Digital, he contributes to Computeractive and TechRadar, among other publications.