Lucy Letby began giving testimony in her defense today, claiming she would ‘never hurt children’ as she denied killing seven babies and trying to kill 10 more, stating: ‘I was just trying my best to take care of them’.
Seven months into her trial at Manchester Crown Court, the 33-year-old went on the witness stand on Tuesday to testify – today she claimed she had PTSD.
She allegedly murdered five boys and two girls between June 2015 and June 2016, and attempted to murder another five boys and five girls.
Letby, from Hereford, denies any crimes alleged to have taken place in the neonatal ward at Countess of Chester Hospital. She wore black pants and a black top and was flanked by two female prison guards.
A few rows behind her parents, John, 76, and Susan, 62, watched – as did relatives of the alleged victims on the other side of the public gallery.
Lucy Letby sat on the witness stand for the first time today as her defense began at Manchester Crown Court. During her testimony, she appeared to be in tears
She denies the murder of seven babies and the attempted murder of ten others between June 2015 and June 2016
Letby told the court about the three times she had been arrested by police on suspicion of murder and attempted murder of babies.
The suspect described her arrests as “traumatizing” and “the scariest thing I’ve ever experienced,” and said she had now been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
She began testifying by confirming some personal details with her lawyer, Ben Myers – her name and date of birth.
Letby said she grew up in Hereford with her mother and father. When asked when she first wanted to become a nurse, she replied, “I’ve always wanted to work with children.”
She told the court she chose A-Levels to follow “which would best support that career.”
Letby said she completed her nursing degree at the University of Chester and was the ‘first person in her family to go to university’.
During her studies, she did numerous internships, she said, most of them at Countess of Chester Hospital, either in the pediatric or neonatal ward.
Letby said she qualified as a Band 5 nurse in September 2011.
Her lawyer, Ben Myers KC, said: “During 2015 and 2016, we are looking at the and the babies on this charge. Can you give a figure on the number of babies you nursed during that period?’
Letby said, “It would be hundreds.”
Mr. Myers said, “Did you care about them?”
Letby said, “Yes.”
When asked if she ever wanted to hurt any of them, she said, “No, that’s totally against being a nurse.”
Letby was flanked by three guards when she first appeared in court to testify. She denies the murder of seven babies and the attempted murder of ten others between June 2015 and June 2016
A diary, along with a Post-it note found in the diary, recovered from a chest of drawers in Lucy Letby’s house
Letby said she was “devastated” when she was relieved of clinical duties, told by the hospital foundation, to check that staff were competent to do their jobs.
She added, “Because I’ve always prided myself on being highly skilled and possibly not being skilled, it really hit me and took me away from the job I loved.”
“It was life changing, at that point I was taken away from the support system I had on the unit, given a role I didn’t like and had to pretend it was voluntary. It made me doubt everything about myself.’
Letby said she was first told she was blamed for the deaths of babies in a letter from the Royal College of Nursing in September 2016.
Ben Myers KC, defensively, asked how this made her feel.
Letby replied, ‘It was sickening. I just couldn’t believe it. It was devastating. I don’t think you could be accused of anything worse.’
She said that after being accused of being responsible for harming babies, she felt very isolated and her mental health was deteriorating.
The 33-year-old (pictured with a baby), said she was ‘devastated’ when she was relieved of clinical duties
Originally from Hereford, Letby denies killing seven babies and attempted to kill a further ten (photo: April 2016 diary entries)
She said she was given antidepressants by her GP, which she still takes.
Ben Myers KC, defending himself, asked the defendant, “How bad did the negative feelings get?”
Letby replied, ‘There were times when I didn’t want to live. I was thinking about suicide.’
Mr. Myers said, “Did you do something wrong?”
Letby replied, “No.”
Mr. Myers said, “Then what made you think of killing yourself?”
Letby replied, “Because of what was deduced.”
Ben Myers KC, defending Letby, asked how she felt about being stripped of her job as a nurse and accused of killing babies.
Letby replied, ‘My job was my life. My whole world stopped.’
Mr. Myers asked, “If you think back to when you were a young woman, you were 25, 26, before you were blamed for what happened, are you the same person?”
Letby replied, ‘Everything has changed completely. Everything about me and my life, the hope I had for the future, everything is gone.’
Mr Myers KC then took his client through some handwritten notes found at her home after her arrest.
Letby said writing down her thoughts was something she had done all her life.
Letby (pictured) described how she sometimes “didn’t want to live” and had been given antidepressants by her GP
Asked to explain why she had written “Not good enough” at the top of a note, Letby said, “That’s the overwhelming feeling I had about myself at the time, because people had made me feel that way.”
“I thought I had been incompetent or had done something wrong. “It’s just me processing those thoughts.”
Referring to the post-it note, Mr. Myers told Lucy Letby, “You wrote, ‘I killed them on purpose because I’m not good enough.’
“Did you deliberately do anything to harm or kill them?”
Letby replied, “No.”
Mr. Myers said, “Why did you think you wouldn’t be good enough?”
The defendant said, ‘Because that was the suggestion all along… that I had been removed from the unit, that I had done something wrong. That was what was insinuated to me.’
Mr Myers said: ‘You wrote ‘I’m bad, I did this’. Why?’
The corridor within the neonatal ward at Countess of Chester Hospital, where the alleged incidents all allegedly took place
Letby said, “Because at the time I felt like I had done something wrong and I thought I was such a horrible, bad person… that I had made mistakes and didn’t know.”
Mr. Myers asked, “What did you think you had done?”
Letby said, “That I was incompetent in some way and that I had done something wrong to affect these babies.” I felt I had to be responsible in some way.”
The accused killer told jurors her first time in the neonatal ward at Countess of Chester Hospital was in 2010 during her internship at the university.
She started working there full-time from January 2012, she said.
“How much did you appreciate being a nurse?” asked her attorney, Mr. Myers.
Letby said, ‘Massive. It was everything.’
Mr. Myers continued, “And baby care?”
Letby said, “I’ve always strived to go on all possible courses to be the best.”
She qualified to work with babies in intensive care from March or April 2015, she told the court.
The defendant said that from then on her time on the unit was “primarily” spent tending to the sickest babies on the unit.
Letby, from Hereford, denies the murder of seven babies and the attempted murder of ten others between June 2015 and June 2016. The trial continues.