Nurse ‘celebrated Grand National bet after trying to murder twins’, court told

Lucy Letby denies murdering seven babies and attempting to murder 10 others.

Kim Pilling
Wednesday 15 February 2023 17:05 GMT
Manchester Crown Court (Steve Allen/PA)
Manchester Crown Court (Steve Allen/PA) (PA Wire)

Nurse Lucy Letby celebrated a winning bet on the Grand National shortly after she attempted to murder twin boys, a court heard.

It is alleged Letby, 33, attacked the prematurely-born infants during a day shift at the Countess of Chester Hospital’s neo-natal unit.

Child M “dramatically” collapsed in his incubator in the unit’s intensive care room at 4pm on April 9 2016, the court heard.

His brother, Child L, also deteriorated beside him at “pretty much the same time”, prosecutor Nick Johnson KC said.

Jurors at Manchester Crown Court heard Letby messaged her mother, Susan, at 1pm about the Grand National, due to be to be staged later that day.

She wrote: “Is dad betting on the Grand National? If so can he see which are greys and put a bet on for me please x”

Her father, John, gave her the names of three horses including the eventual winner Rule The World, the court was told.

Mr Letby placed a £2 each-way bet for his daughter on Rule The World because it shared its name with the popular Take That song, the court heard.

Letby’s mother texted her at 5.25pm with the news that Rule The World had triumphed.

Two hours after the unexpected collapse of Child M, Letby messaged a friend: “Work has been shite but … I’ve just won £135 on the grand national!! (horse emoji).”

The court heard that Letby had moved into her new home – near to the hospital – earlier in the week.

On a group WhatsApp post to friends just before 2pm on the same shift, she wrote: “Sorry guys, mad busy four days in work. U can come to mine if you want to. Just need to unpack first.

“Haven’t got a spare bed yet tho so cant stay unfortunately. Looking forward to a catch up.

“Got magnum prosecco and vodka woop. No disco ball but sure we can manage”.

Following her Grand National winning bet, she tells the same group chat: “Unpacking party sounds good to me with my flavoured vodka ha ha. Just won the Grand National!! (horse emoji).

It was very distressing to see. I will never forget that image. I still have it in my mind.

The twins' father

The Crown says Letby poisoned Child L with insulin and also injected air into the bloodstream of Child M.

Letby, originally from Hereford, denies murdering seven babies and attempting to murder 10 others between June 2015 and June 2016.

In statements read to the court, the parents of Child L and M recalled a nurse “running up” to the mother’s ward room following a visit to the boys with other family members.

The boys’ father said: “Within 10 minutes of being on the ward a nurse came charging in and said: ‘You need to come now.’

“So we all rushed downstairs. I was in there first as my wife was in a wheelchair.

“I saw one of the doctors doing chest compressions on (Child M). It was very distressing to see. I will never forget that image. I still have it in my mind.

“One of the nurses said (Child M) had been absolutely fine and they didn’t know what had happened to him.

“They worked on him for half an hour. They later told us his heart had stopped. He then stabilised, he came round and his colour started coming back.”

The boys’ mother said: “I was praying to my God to see my boy and help him. I was asking to my God to save him.”

She said the twins recovered following the events of April 9 and there were no other problems until they were discharged in early May.

The father of Child L and Child M said: “They were fit and well when they were released. It was a relief to finally get the boys home.”

Brain scans were carried out on Child M but no adverse after-affects were found, the court was told.

Letby volunteered to work on April 9 as an extra shift because she wanted the overtime pay, the court heard.

She told a friend the neo-natal unit was “full so struggling for staff”.

A total of 16 children were spread across the unit’s four nurseries on April 9, with the twins and three other infants in intensive care room 1.

Three nurses, a nursery nurse and the nursing shift leader were on duty.

On April 11 Letby messaged the same friend, who cannot be named for legal reasons, that the “unit is in dire way with staff”.

She added: “Me and Mary (another nurse) in 1 with 5 babies, one collapsed with full resus, 1 on exchange and 1 hypo. It was mad and poor skill mix x”

In his opening address last October to the jury, Ben Myers KC, defending, said there was “nothing in fact” to establish Letby had poisoned Child L and that there was “no obvious cause” to the collapse of  his brother.

The trial continues on Thursday.

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