Legal

How Could She? Baby Killer Nurse Lucy Letby’s Crimes and Motives

Justice James Goss called it, “A cruel, calculated, and cynical campaign of child murder involving the smallest and most vulnerable of children,” during Lucy Letby’s sentencing on August 21, 2023.

The 33-year-old nurse, who’s described herself as evil, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole by Manchester Crown Court for murdering seven helpless babies and attempting to kill six others while working in the neonatal unit at the Countess of Chester Hospital between June 2015 and June 2016.

Her story has captivated the world and left many with several unanswered questions and comments wondering how someone could possibly do this.

The beginning of something sinister

Lucy began working at Countess of Chester Hospital in 2012 as a neonatal registered nurse after graduating from the University of Chester in September 2011. Considered “quite awkward and geeky” by some of her friends, she is the only child of a finance manager and an accounts clerk who appeared to be dedicated to her job.

In 2015, Lucy qualified to work in the intensive care unit with the most vulnerable of infants. It was at this time that suspicious incidents started occurring.

The number of babies dying or suffering catastrophic collapses began to increase during Lucy’s care and seemed to follow her from night to day shifts.

mum central
Source: Instagram

According to senior nurse, Kathryn Percival-Calderbank, Lucy considered working outside the intensive care unit “boring” and was unhappy when she was switched to the non-intensive care nurseries.

She always gravitated back to the intensive care nursery, especially if there was an emergency.

The Investigation

Hospital consultants and doctors repeatedly raised concerns over increased patient mortality rates during Lucy’s care; however, management dismissed them.

She was finally placed on clerical duties after two triplets passed away and the third collapsed three days in a row in June of 2016.

However, the sinister nurse filed a grievance against the hospital in September of the same year which was upheld by the hospital board due to lack of evidence. The medical director even went as far as to order the consultants and doctors to send her a written letter of apology.

Lucy was due to return to work as a neonatal nurse in May 2017. Still concerned with her potential involvement in the babies’ deaths, the consultants requested management involve the police in March 2017.

She was finally arrested and questioned in 2018 and 2019, each time being released on bond while investigators gathered more evidence.

Lucy Letby was arrested for a third and final time in November 2020. She was charged with eight counts of murder and ten counts of attempted murder and was denied bail.

Lucy Letby baby killer
Outside of Lucy’s house. Source: Facebook

What Lucy Letby did

The years-long investigation revealed that Lucy injected infants’ intravenous lines and stomachs with air, poisoned some with insulin injections, force-fed others with milk (often through their feeding tubes), and physically abused them.

There were numerous accounts from parents during the trial where they’d found nurse Letby hovering over their babies just before collapsing or their babies bloody around their mouths.

Other times, parents would hear their babies screaming only to find her by their cot, keeping busy, as if pretending to aid them.

It was also reported that Lucy often sobbed in grief after the babies’ passing. She would make keepsakes for the parents and send them texts or sympathy cards after the funerals or on their anniversary of passing.

She would smile as she bathed their lifeless bodies and dressed them for burial.

Additionally, investigators found she conducted thousands of online searches on the parents immediately after the killings as well as around the babies’ death anniversaries.

She even took countless hospital records home on the babies who had collapsed.

A devastated mum of two victims told the court that Lucy “presented herself as kind, caring, and soft-spoken.”

Little did they know behind the calm exterior, lay a malevolent soul.

Calculated deceit

Pascale Jones of Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service told the court that Lucy “perverted her learning and weaponised her craft to inflict harm, grief and death.”

She deceived her colleagues into thinking the babies passed due to natural causes. She even altered babies’ temperature charts and times of collapse to fall within other nurses’ shifts.

Former deputy nursing director of the Countess of Chester Hospital, Karen Rees, could not believe Letby was guilty until the end of the trial when all the evidence was presented.

She has been accused of failing to act on consultants’ warnings, but claims she was “duped” by the “calculating” baby serial killer for years.

Rees, as did others in the neonatal unit, believed she was innocent “because for so long they were fed the narrative that Letby was being blamed by consultants who were making excuses for their own mistakes,” according to a source at the Countess of Chester.

The post-it confession

During the police raid on Letby’s home, they found a green Post-It tucked inside the pages of a child-like spiral notebook that served as a haunting confession.

Lucy Letby nurse confession
Lucy’s green post-it note was hidden in a child-like diary. Source: Crown Prosecution Service, UK

Titled, “Not Good Enough,” she scribbled phrases and words, such as:

I killed them on purpose because I’m not good enough to care for them.

I am a horrible evil person.

 I AM EVIL, I DID THIS.

I am an awful person – I pay every day for that. I can’t breathe. I can’t focus. Kill myself right now. I’ll never have children or marry. I’ll never know what it’s like to have a family. 

NO HOPE.”

How could she??

This is something no one will be able to answer. To murder babies is absolutely appalling and her actions before and after her crimes are even more chilling. How could someone kill a baby and then send keepsakes to the parents? How could someone pretend to be sad about a crime they committed?

The prosecutor Nick Johnson KC suggested Letby enjoyed “playing God” by harming babies and then being the first to alert her colleagues to their decline.

Johnson told jurors:

She knew what was going to happen. She was controlling things. She was enjoying what was going on. She was predicting things that she knew was going to happen. She, in effect, was playing God.”

Johnson suggested to Letby that she was “getting a thrill out of what you were watching, the grief and despair, in that room”.

In the aftermath of Lucy’s sentencing, Dr. Sohom Das, a qualified Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist explained how the nurse’s case is remarkably different from other similar cases.

Lucy is very unique compared to the rest of the offender population I have assessed,” Sohom said. “One major reason is that there were almost no red flag warnings. She wasn’t aggressive, antisocial, hostile or cantankerous.

As far as we know, there is no trauma in her history. She wasn’t, for example, a victim of abuse. She had no criminal history or even issues relating to friends and peers. In fact, before baby deaths started spiking, she was seen by her colleagues as diligent and conscientious. 

It has been established that Lucy suffered from some background anxiety and depression. However, crucially, in my view, this did not affect her criminal culpability. It may have given her a negative outlook on life, but that still does not explain and certainly does not excuse what she did.”

The married doctor 

Another possible motive for murder, as claimed by the prosecution was that Lucy was having a secret relationship with a married doctor, who worked at the Countess of Chester hospital and cannot be named for legal reasons, though the nurse repeatedly denied this.

Texts shown to the court revealed the pair messaged regularly, swapping love heart emojis, and met up several times outside work – including on a day trip to London – even after Letby was removed from the neonatal unit in July 2016.

The nature of their relationship was said to be significant: he was one of the doctors who would be called when babies suddenly deteriorated. She harmed them, it was suggested, to get his “personal attention”. Letby denied this.

Moving forward 

Letby’s trial started in October 2022 and lasted ten months with a Manchester Crown Court jury convicting her of murdering seven babies and attempting to murder six after 22 days of deliberation.

Lucy refused to attend the sentencing, which is allowed in British courts. Her absence angered the parents of the victims, prompting calls for laws to change so defendants have to face the victims’ families.

British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak said,

“It’s cowardly that people who commit such horrendous crimes do not face their victims and hear first-hand the impact that their crimes have had on them and their families and loved ones.”

Investigation into hospital

Lucy’s horrific crimes have shocked the world and left us all wondering how could she get away with this.  The 33-year-old is now being considered one of the most prolific child killers in the history of the United Kingdom. 

The attention is now turning to the Countess of Chester Hospital and its procedures and management in response to the increase in neonatal unit deaths.

Lucy’s horrific crimes have left several families completely broken as they continue to live each day without their children.

As one brokenhearted mum put it during the trial,

There is no sentence that will ever compare to the excruciating agony that we have suffered as a consequence of your actions. At least now there is no debate that, in your own words, you killed them on purpose. You are evil. You did this.”

Another said,

I don’t think we will ever get over the fact that our daughter was tortured till she had no fight left in her and everything she went through over her short life was deliberately done by someone who was supposed to protect her and help her come home where she belonged.”

We can only hope the parents find some peace after the devastating losses they’ve endured.

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Gloria Ruby Ramirez is a writer, mother, and lover of coffee, twinkle lights, and rain who believes in the magical power of words. She is passionate about parenting, mental health, and the environment. She is a former agricultural microbiologist/plant pathologist with a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology from Arizona State University. Born in the desert of northern Mexico, she is mum to her beautifully energetic son and Shih Tzu, Gerty. When not writing, Gloria can be found spending time with her son and family, reading, or embroidering.

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