Lucy Letby told police three baby deaths in fortnight ‘bad luck’, court hears

It is alleged the neo-natal unit nurse murdered seven babies and attempted to murder 10 others

Kim Pilling
Thursday 20 April 2023 20:24 BST
A sketch of Lucy Letby listening from the dock at Manchester Crown Court
A sketch of Lucy Letby listening from the dock at Manchester Crown Court (PA Wire)

Nurse Lucy Letby said it was “bad luck” that three babies died in a fortnight while she was on duty, a trial has heard.

Letby, 33, was asked by detectives to explain the “spike” of fatalities at the Countess of Chester Hospital in June 2015 when she was first arrested three years later.

It is alleged the neo-natal unit nurse murdered seven babies and attempted to murder 10 others between June 2015 and June 2016.

Between June 8 and June 22 2015 she is said to have attacked four infants by injecting them with air, killing three of them.

In police interviews read at Manchester Crown Court on Thursday, a detective asked her: “What were you thinking during that period?”

Letby replied: “That it was a shock to have that many deaths.”

The detective said: “It must have been devastating.”

“Yes,” replied Letby. “You just have to find a way to deal with it, do the job and provide the care that we give.”

The detective asked: “Did any of the staff sort of question the hospital or colleagues as to where the spike was coming from?”

Letby replied: “Not that I’m aware of.”

The detective said: “Did you yourself?”

“No,” replied Letby.

The detective said: “Why didn’t you question the spike?”

Letby said: “In a formal way? Because I didn’t feel like anything needed to be looked into, it was just a shock for everybody.”

The detective went on: “You dealt with all those (babies) didn’t you? What did you put that down to, bad luck?”

“Yes,” Letby replied.

The defendant also told police that she was “upset and frustrated” six minutes before the collapse of her alleged third victim, a baby boy.

Letby, 33, messaged a colleague during a night shift in the unit’s intensive care room, jurors were told.

Five days earlier another baby boy – her alleged first victim, Child A – had died in intensive care room one.

On the evening of June 13 2015, the court heard she texted a fellow nurse: “I just keep thinking about Mon(day). Feel like I need to be in 1 to overcome it but (nurse) said no x.

“I just feel I need to be in 1 to get the image out of my head. To be in (room) 3 is eating me up. All I can see is him in 1.”

Later she told her colleague “I’ll overcome it myself” before at 11.09pm texting her, saying: “Forget it I’m obviously making more of it than I should x.

“Sleep well xx.”

At 11.15pm the baby boy, Child C, suddenly deteriorated in room one and died the following morning, jurors have heard.

When interviewed by police about the death of Child C, the defendant said she did not recall the text conversation.

Asked what she felt she needed to overcome, she replied: “I’m assuming … I previously had a bad experience in (room) one.”

Letby thought the image she “wanted out of my head” was that of Child A.

She told officers: “It’s very difficult, when you see dead babies it’s hard to get that image out of your head.”

The detective asked: “Why would going into nursery one help?”

Letby replied: “Because I would see a different baby in there, and see a different scenario to the scenario I had at the time when he died.”

The detective said: “How would it be a different scenario?”

Letby said: “It’s a different baby, it’s different staff, it’s a different night.

“Because I think when you are going to the same incubator space and there is a different baby there you know you let the one you lost go. Until you go into that space, you see that baby until another baby goes in there.”

The detective said: “You sent the final text at 11.09pm. Six minutes after you sent that, (Child C) collapsed.”

“Right,” said Letby.

The detective went on: “What are you thoughts on that?”

Letby responded: “I don’t have any thoughts on that.”

The detective said: “The text messages suggest you were frustrated at not working in nursery one, do you agree?”

The defendant said: “Yes, I think it would have helped me if I could have been in nursery one.”

Letby agreed she was the only staff member in room one when Child C collapsed and that she was seen at his cot-side when a monitor alarm sounded.

The detective asked: “And at that time you were feeling upset and frustrated?”

“Yes,” said Letby.

The detective said: “You went on to attack (Child C)?”

Letby said: “No I haven’t. No.”

The detective said: “Lucy, did you murder (Child C)?”

“No,” the defendant said.

Letby was also asked by police about Child E who she is accused of murdering on August 4 2015 and his twin brother, Child F, who she allegedly attempted to murder the next day.

The court heard Letby made 10 searches on her Facebook account for the boys’ parents between August 6 and January 10 2016, including Christmas Day.

Letby told detectives she did not remember making the searches but it could be to “see how babies were doing” and that members of staff “cared for the babies”.

The interviewing officer asked her: “Were you obsessed with this particular family?”

“No,” she replied.

Letby, originally from Hereford, denies all the allegations.

The trial continues next Tuesday.

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