The fatal collapse of a twin baby came as “a complete shock” to neonatal nurse Lucy Letby, she told a jury today.
Letby, 33, from Hereford, is on trial for the alleged murder of seven babies at Countess of Chester Hospital and the attempted murder of a further ten. The costs relate to a period between June 2015 and June 2016.
She denies them all.
During her second day on the witness stand, Letby said, “It felt like we walked through the door into this horrible situation. That was the first time I met (Baby) A and his parents. It was a huge shock.”
As the child’s designated nurse, it later fell to her to lead the process of copying the baby’s hands and feet for a memory box. His parents requested that his twin sister’s fingerprints be taken at the same time.
Letby’s attorney, Ben Myers KC, asked if Baby A’s death on June 8, 2015 had affected her.
Court artist sketch of Lucy Letby testifying in the dock at Manchester Crown Court where she is charged with the murder of seven infants and the attempted murder of a further ten while working in the neonatal ward at Countess of Chester Hospital
Letby, who is accused of killing baby A with an injection of air, said she regularly exchanged messages with colleagues in the wake of incidents on the unit
A prison van, believed to be carrying former nurse Lucy Letby, arrived at Manchester Crown Court this morning.
“Yes, that’s right,” she replied.
Mr. Myers continued, “It is alleged that you did this. Do you have?’
“No,” said the nurse.
Her lawyer then asked how it felt to be the subject of such an accusation.
She replied, “It’s terrible. I wasn’t even allowed to work that night. It was such a shock to find myself in that situation.”
The Manchester Crown Court jury has learned that baby A collapsed shortly after Letby and a nurse colleague, Melanie Taylor, connected him to a line that fed him a solution containing 10 percent glucose.
She said when an alarm went off, she noticed that the child’s limbs turned white and his torso and abdomen turned pale.
“He had apnea,” she told Mr. Myers. “He wasn’t breathing at the time.”
An emergency call went out, but despite attempts to resuscitate him, Baby A died shortly before 9 p.m.
Letby recalled that a nurse on the ward sent her a WhatsApp message the next morning to say, “You did a great job. So proud of you…You did a fantastic job xxxx’.
She later said she hoped the alleged killer hadn’t found the compliment patronizing.
Letby replied, ‘It’s not patronizing at all. I appreciate you saying that and thank you for letting me do this, but supporting me so well.”
The defendant, who is charged with killing Baby A with an injection of air, said she regularly exchanged messages with colleagues in the wake of incidents at the unit.
‘It was my main form of support, living alone and there was no formal support at work. It’s something we would all do. We all had regular contact with each other outside of work.’
Letby acknowledged that he conducted three Facebook searches for Baby A’s mother in the days following his death.
Letby, 33, (pictured) originally from Hereford, allegedly injected baby B with air, said she was asked to let the unit’s camera take a picture of the spots
A court artist sketch of Lucy Letby being questioned by her lawyer Ben Myers in the dock at Manchester Crown Court
“It was just curiosity,” she told Mr. Myers.
“To walk into the unit that morning and not have met the parents… I wanted to see the people behind the horrible event that had happened. They were on my mind’.
She added, “It’s a common behavior pattern for me. When I think of someone, I look them up. (Baby) A and (Baby) B were on my mind at the time. Usually I searched for several people in a short time’.
Letby also told the jury she couldn’t remember the lead-up to Baby B’s collapse “with any clarity.”
She was with a fellow nurse in nursery 1 when the baby became “pretty blotchy” and “dark” all over.
When asked if she’d seen such spots before, she said it wasn’t unusual, but it was a concern in light of baby A’s death the night before.
Letby, who allegedly injected baby B with air, said she was asked to let the unit’s camera take a picture of the spots.
She came back from the manager’s office “very quickly,” but by then baby B’s color had returned to normal and there was no spot to photograph.
John and Susan Letby, the nurse’s parents, were seen leaving Manchester Crown Court this week as their daughter testified for the first time
The jury has been told that baby C – whose mother is a GP – was born on June 10 and died four days later.
Letby told the court she had no recollection of the events leading up to his fatal collapse. It had been a “normal” service, she added, and she had “no memory” of what happened until his collapse.
This had been ‘an important event’.
She remembered getting a call from her nurse colleague Sophie Ellis. After looking at the baby, she asked Miss Ellis to make an emergency call. “I only remember that he had apnea and needed respiratory support.
The nurse insisted that despite what Miss Ellis said in a police statement, she had no recollection of being in Nursery 1 before Baby C collapsed. She couldn’t remember standing next to his bed when the alarm went off.
Mr. Myers reminded Letby of WhatsApp messages she had exchanged with childcare worker Jennifer Jones-Key in the days following Baby C’s death.
At one point, she told her, “I can’t stop thinking about Mon. I have the feeling that I should be in (Nursery) 1′.
Mrs Jones-Key replies, ‘You need a break from the full ITU. You have to let it go or it will eat you up. I know it’s not easy and it will take time.
Referring to her time at Liverpool Women’s Hospital, Letby told her colleague, ‘I lost a baby one day’.
She went on to explain how that experience had helped her realize the importance of returning to a particular nursery after a tragedy.
Mr. Myers asked if there was anything in her WhatsApp conversation with Ms. Jones-Key that made her want to attack a child.
Letby replied, “No.”
Mr. Myers: “Losing a baby…is that something you wanted to happen?”
Letby: “Not at all, no.”
The alleged killer was asked for her opinion on “what the parents went through.” She replied, “It’s unbelievable.”
At one point, Letby broke off while answering a question, seemingly startled by a noise in the courtroom.
Mr. Myers noticed her hesitation and asked if she could continue. “Yes, I’m very easily distracted,” Letby said.
Her lawyer asked, “Have you always been like this?”. “No,” she replied.
Earlier this week – the 26th of her trial – Letby told the jury she was “easily startled” by unexpected noises due to the post-traumatic stress disorder she has suffered since her first arrest in July 2018.
Baby D collapsed three times on the morning of June 22. She died at 4:25 p.m.
Mr Myers referred her to a statement from Baby D’s mother saying she had a conversation with Letby at 7pm on 21 June.
The nurse says she doesn’t recall any conversation, and a WhatsApp message sent from her phone at 7:15pm refers to her being “about to leave for a night shift”. Swipe data also recorded her arriving at the unit at 7:26 pm.
Letby claimed not to remember Baby E screaming and having fresh blood around his mouth. She said, “No, he was agitated at some points, but he wasn’t yelling”.
She also rejected the mother’s claim that she told her to leave the unit. “We wouldn’t do that,” she told Mr. Myers.
The neonatal nurse said Baby E was bleeding profusely from his mouth and nose during resuscitation efforts to save his life.
She cried on the witness stand as she remembered dressing him in a dress after his death. “He didn’t have any clothes, so we found a dress from the unit for him to get dressed in.”
Another nurse, Belinda Simcock, helped her with that, and then Letby took pictures of the baby with two little teddy bears — one for Baby E, the other for his twin, Baby F.
She took the photos at the request of the parents.
Wiping her eyes with a tissue, Letby described Baby E’s death as “very traumatic”. She added: “I’ve never seen a baby bleed like that”.
Mr. Myers asked Letby if she’d gone back to Baby F “to finish something you started elsewhere, as they say?”
No, she said.
She herself read a medical note she had written about the baby on August 9. It read: “Parents instructed caregivers and both cuddled (Baby) F. Glad he opened his eyes for the first time today”.
Mr. Myers asked if she had done something to him? Again she said no.
Her lawyer then asked what her purpose had been. She replied: To take care of him. To get him ready to go home.”
The trial will resume on Thursday.