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Neonatal nurse Lucy Letby ‘killed premature baby by injecting air into his stomach through a nose tube, court hears

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Lucy Letby, the nurse charged with murdering seven babies was found with a premature child moments after administering a fatal injection of air in the same room where she had poisoned and killed another newborn just six days earlier, a court heard today.

The nurse stood next to the cot of Baby C, who was just five days old and weighed 2lbs, when his monitor alarm went off and she told the colleague who rushed in: ‘He’s going, he’s going’.

Baby C died because the air injected into his stomach made him unable to breath and he suffered a cardiac arrest, Nick Johnson KC, told the jury on the second day of her trial at Manchester Crown Court.


Letby allegedly killed him just six days after murdering for the first time, when she killed another baby boy, child A, and days later attacked his twin sister, child B, while working at the neo-natal unit at the Countess of Chester Hospital.


The ICU nurse was later questioned by police over why she had tracked the families of her alleged victims on Facebook – sometimes hours after the children had died.

Baby C, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had been born prematurely at 30 weeks on June 10, 2015, but despite going into intensive care he was in a good condition.

On the night of June 14 Baby C’s assigned nurse briefly left the room to go to the nursing station, she heard his alarm go off, so rushed back.

Mr Johnson said: ‘When she went back into room one, there was Lucy Letby, standing next to Child C’s cot’, adding that Letby had ‘no business’ to be there and had been told repeatedly she was caring for another, more poorly baby, in another room on that shift.


He told the jury: ‘Again, taking a step back, you can now see there was a pattern emerging.


‘Lucy Letby was the only person working on the night shift when Baby C died who had also been working on either of the shifts when Baby A died and his twin sister Baby B collapsed.

‘What we are going to see, as we progress, is that Lucy Letby’s method of attacking the babies in the neo-natal unit was beginning to develop.

‘She had injected air into the bloodstream of the first twins, Baby A and B, and varied this approach by injecting air into Baby C’s stomach via the nasogastric tube.’

Mr. Johnson said an independent pathologist – when reviewing the case – concluded Child C died because his breathing became compromised and he suffered a cardiac arrest.


The prosecutor told jurors: ‘If you are trying to murder a child in a neo-natal unit, it is a fairly effective way of doing it. It doesn’t really leave much trace’.


He said on the afternoon of June 14, 2015 – hours after Child C died – the defendant searched on Facebook for the youngster’s parents.


Mr. Johnson suggested from the timings that this was ‘one of the first things she did when waking up’ after she had earlier finished her shift at about 8 am.


Letby is alleged to have murdered Baby D on June 22, eight days after Baby C, the court heard.

Mr Johnson said: ‘The prosecution say that this was another case of injecting a child with air into the bloodstream. Three children had died and one had had a life-threatening episode in the neonatal unit at the Countess of Chester Hospital in a two-week period. Lucy Letby was the only constant presence’.

Children’s nurse Lucy Letby murdered Baby C four days after his birth on June 10, 2015, a jury at Manchester Crown Court head today.

The infant weighed 2lbs (800 grams) at birth and was in a good condition. However, two days later he was given a longline to help him over a period of low blood sugar and on June 13 the least intrusive breathing support known as Optiflow.

Later that day nurses found traces of bile in his stomach, potentially an early sign of a gastrointestinal disorder called nectrotising entrocolitis. He was given treatment for that and his milk feeds were discontinued. By the evening he was recovering.


Letby was on a night shift that day. She was meant to be the designated nurse for another baby, but despite being instructed by her shift leader to stay with him she made her way to the cot of Baby C in Nursery 1.


Sophie Ellis, the nurse caring for Baby C, went briefly to the nurses’ station. Whilst there she heard Baby C’s monitor sound an alarm. When she e-entered Nursery 1 Letby was already standing next to the cot.


Letby told her: ‘He’s just dropped his heart rate and saturations’ or something similar. Mr Johnson told the jury ‘Baby C was the third baby who had suffered a serious deterioration in a matter of a few days…and there again was Lucy Letby.’


Baby C quickly recovered, but then collapsed again a short time later. As he did so, Letby said to Nurse Ellis: ‘He’s going’. ‘She was right,’ said Mr Johnson.


It later emerged that Letby had texted an off-duty to say she had wanted to be in Room 1 because it would be cathartic for her – would help her wellbeing, to see a living in the space previously occupied by a dead baby, Baby A’.

Senior medics failed to resuscitate Baby C but he was pronounced dead at 5.58am on June 14.


Dr. Dewi Evans, the expert who reviewed the case, expressed concern about the cause of Baby C’s sudden deterioration. In the light of the orther cases he reviewed he thought it suspicious. He als believed that the damage to his heart was the result of rather than the cause of his collapse.


Dr. Sandie Bohin thought the only feasible mechanism for the excessive air in the baby’s gut at the time of his collapse was the deliberate injection of air into his bloodstream.


Mr. Johnson said: ‘So it was a variation or a refinement of a theme Lucy had started with the twins Baby A and Baby B’.


Letby, 32, is alleged to have gone on a year-long killing spree while working at the Countess of Chester Hospital – including one child who died less than 90 minutes after being handed into her care.


She is accused of murdering seven premature babies – and trying to kill ten more – took up to three attempts to poison infants by injecting insulin, milk or even air into their tiny bodies, a court heard yesterday.


The specially trained ICU nurse was described as a ‘constant malevolent presence’ on the Cheshire children’s unit where she allegedly killed and injured many vulnerable children – including twins. She is accused of using night shifts to launch many attacks because she knew parents were unlikely to visit the neonatal ward.


Several babies were allegedly poisoned with insulin and one child – known as Baby E was murdered when Letby allegedly injected him with air, Manchester Crown Court has heard.

It caused what doctors call an air embolus, which leads to strokes or heart attacks. Letby is also accused of pumping dangerous levels of milk into the premature children via feeding tubes or veins.

She allegedly targeted twins on more than one occasion – and in some cases one was murdered and their sibling survived. Letby was questioned by police during interviews over why she had tracked the families of her alleged victims on Facebook, with prosecutors saying that this was an ‘unusual interest’.


Opening the prosecution, Nick Johnson KC, said: ‘Sometimes a baby that she succeeded in killing was not killed the first or even second time she tried’. He added: ‘Sometimes they were injected with air – both intravenously [into the blood] and via the nasogastric tube [into the stomach]. Sometimes they were injected with milk or some other fluid.


Sometimes it was insulin. But the constant presence was Lucy Letby’.


Police discovered ‘a poisoner was at work’ on the NHS neonatal unit after a ‘significant rise’ in the number of healthy babies dying or falling ill while a nurse accused of murdering seven children and trying to kill ten more was working on the ward between June 2015 and June 2016, the jury were told on the first day of her trial. She is facing 22 charges concerning 17 babies, some of whom she allegedly attempted to murder multiple times.


Letby pleaded not guilty to each charge yesterday morning.