Nurse denies photographing sympathy card ‘to get thrill’, Lucy Letby trial hears

Lucy Letby is alleged to have murdered seven babies at the Countess of Chester Hospital

Kim Pilling
Thursday 18 May 2023 19:13 BST
Lucy Letby has denied murdering seven babies (Elizabeth Cook/PA)
Lucy Letby has denied murdering seven babies (Elizabeth Cook/PA) (PA Wire)

A nurse has denied she got “a thrill” from photographing a sympathy card sent to the parents of a baby girl she allegedly murdered.

The infant is one of seven babies that Lucy Letby is said to have murdered at the Countess of Chester Hospital’s neo-natal unit.

Letby, 33, from Hereford, is said to have killed Child I at the fourth attempt. She also denies attempting to murder 10 other babies.

Her trial at Manchester Crown Court has heard that during a night shift on the unit she took a picture on her phone of a sympathy card she wrote to be passed to colleagues attending the child’s funeral.

Cross-examining her on Thursday, prosecutor Nick Johnson KC said: “You took a picture of a card, addressed to the parents of a child who had died in dreadful circumstances, at the place where she died.”

Letby said: “The place is insignificant. My usual behaviour is to photograph things that I send or receive.”

Mr Johnson asked: “Did it give you a bit of a thrill to photograph it at the place where this poor unfortunate child died?”

Letby replied: “Absolutely not.”

Jurors have been told that following her arrest a total of 257 shift handover sheets – some including the names of babies she allegedly harmed – were found at her then home in Chester and her parents’ address in Hereford.

One sheet found “in pristine condition” at her address in Westbourne Road, Chester, was dated June 1 2010 – her first day of work as a student at the neonatal unit.

Mr Johnson asked: “Did you have a keepsafe box with roses on it at Westbourne Road?”

“Yes,” said Letby.

Mr Johnson said: “What was in the keepsafe box?”

Letby said: “I can’t recall from memory.”

Mr Johnson said: “One of the things in that box was that handover sheet, wasn’t it?”

Letby said: “I don’t have any recollection where the handover sheets were.”

Mr Johnson said: “How does it differ from all the other handover sheets?”

Letby said: “It doesn’t have any writing on it.”

Mr Johnson said: “And it doesn’t have any folds in it. It’s in pristine condition.”

Letby agreed.

Mr Johnson went on: “Some 99 handover sheets from your home as a student.”

Letby said: “I wouldn’t know.”

Mr Johnson said: “You have not been prepared to tell the truth about these handover sheets, have you?”

Letby said: “The truth is what I have told you.”

The defendant previously told the jury of eight women and four men that the sheets “inadvertently come home with in my uniform pocket”.

Police found 31 handover sheets in a Morrisons bag – her work bag – under her bed.

Mr Johnson asked: “Why put them in the bag at all?”

Letby said: “ I can’t recall. They are just pieces of paper to me.”

Mr Johnson said: “You are not telling the truth, are you?”

Letby said: “I am.”

Mr Johnson said: “Why don’t you want to tell the truth?”

Letby said: “That is the truth. They have no meaning to me at all. I have copious pieces of paper and cards that I have not thrown away my whole life.”

Also discovered in police searches was a blood gas reading of a baby boy, Child M, who she allegedly attempted to murder.

Mr Johnson reminded Letby that a nursing colleague who took the measurement had told the court she would have disposed of the printout in the unit’s confidential waste bin.

The prosecutor asked: “When did you fish it out of the bin?”

Letby said: “I never fished anything out of the confidential bin.”

Mr Johnson said: “How did you get it?”

Letby said: “I can’t recall specifically.”

Mr Johnson said: “It was for your little collection, wasn’t it Lucy Letby?”

“No,” replied the defendant.

Letby admitted sometimes visiting the unit at night while not working a shift.

She said this was to fill in paperwork or speak to colleagues and the night-time visits were due to her shift patterns.

Mr Johnson said: “So there’s occasions you have been on the unit and no trace?”

Letby said her swipe card used for entry would have been recorded.

Mr Johnson said she had been on the unit on a day off when a baby girl, Child G – who she allegedly tried to murder – was seriously ill.

The prosecutor said: “You had been having a look at her, hadn’t you? Why are you looking at this child?”

Letby said she was “checking on her” as the paperwork she had come back to complete related to that baby.

Mr Johnson continued: “There’s no record of you going into the unit from the swipe data. You would not need a pass to get in. You could ring the buzzer and walk in. People trusted you.”

Letby replied: “To go to the unit at night, you have to have a reason to go. It was quieter at night.”

Letby, from Hereford, denies all the alleged offences said to have taken place between June 2015 and June 2016.

The defendant later became tearful when Mr Johnson suggested she had “enjoyed” the collapse and death of Child C, a baby boy she is said to have murdered in June 2015.

Jurors were reminded that another nurse on the shift had told the court she had to keep telling Letby to stop going into the family room as his parents cradled their son following his death.

Mr Johnson said: “I am going to suggest you enjoyed what happened. That’s why you were in and out of the room.”

“No,” said Letby.

The trial continues on Friday.

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