Baby murderer Lucy Letby to spend her life in jail for ‘cruel, calculated and cynical’ campaign

Lucy Letby will spend the rest of her life in jail for her “cruel, calculated and cynical campaign” of murder and attempted murder of babies at the hospital where she worked.

The most prolific child serial killer in modern British history was told by judge Mr Justice Goss there was a “malevolence bordering on sadism in your actions” for which “you have no remorse”.

The 33-year-old was convicted by a jury of murdering seven babies and trying to kill six more while working in the Countess of Chester Hospital’s neonatal unit between 2015 and 2016.

The judge handed her a whole-life order at Manchester Crown Court on Monday, making her only the fourth woman in UK history to be told she will never be released from prison.

Addressing the nurse (pictured on her arrest), who refused to appear in court, he said: “You acted in a way that was completely contrary to the normal human instincts of nurturing and caring for babies and in gross breach of the trust that all citizens place in those who work in the medical and caring professions.

“The babies you harmed were born prematurely and some were at risk of not surviving but in each case you deliberately harmed them, intending to kill them.”

He went on: “By their nature and number such murders and attempted murder by a neonatal nurse entrusted to care for them is a case of very exceptional circumstances.

“This was a cruel, calculated and cynical campaign of child murder.”

He added: “There was a malevolence bordering on sadism in your actions.

“During the course of this trial you have coldly denied any responsibility for your wrongdoing.

“You have no remorse. There are no mitigating factors.”

Sentencing her to a whole-life order for each offence, he said: “You will spend the rest of your life in prison.”

The other women to be told they would spend the rest of their lives in prison are the girlfriend of Moors Murderer Ian Brady, Myra Hindley, who died in 2002, and serial killers Rose West and Joanna Dennehy.

Amid anger from the victims’ families at her refusal to attend, the judge told Letby she would be provided with copies of his remarks and the personal statements of the parents.

Earlier, mothers and fathers addressed an empty dock as they told her “You are nothing” and “You are evil”.

More than a dozen relatives of victims sat in the public gallery for the hearing on Monday and eight jurors returned to see the sentencing.

In a statement read to the court, the mother of Child A, who was murdered by Letby, and Child B, who she attempted to kill, said: “You thought it was your right to play God with our children’s lives.”

She said after the death of Child A, a boy, they feared for his twin sister and made sure a member of the family was always with her, but “made a mistake” and started to believe what happened to the first child was a “tragic event that couldn’t be stopped”.

She added: “Little did we know you were waiting for us to leave so you could attack the one thing that gave us a reason to carry on in life.”

In the statement, made on behalf of her and her partner, she said: “Maybe you thought by doing this you would be remembered forever but I want you to know my family will never think of you again.

“From this day you are nothing.”

The mother of Child C, a baby boy, choked back tears as she told Letby in her absence: “At least now there is no debate that, in your own words, you killed them on purpose. You are evil. You did this.”

The woman added: “I blame myself entirely for his death. I still live with the guilt that I couldn’t protect him during pregnancy or in his short life.”

The mother of Child I, a premature-born girl, said her husband “wished he was dead, he wished it was him that died” and not their daughter.

“When they handed (Child I) to us we never wanted to let her go, we held her so tight she was our gorgeous little princess and I can’t even begin to explain the pain. When we lost her a part of us died with her,” she said.

Another parent said hospital bosses told her a police probe was “out of the question” after the death of her child, a full-term baby girl referred to as Child D, on June 22 2015.

She was the third infant death in a fortnight – equalling the total number of deaths on the neonatal unit for the whole of 2014.

Child D’s mother told the court she asked for her medical notes and met with doctors and management from the Countess of Chester Hospital.

She said: “We got a solicitor and I wanted the police involved. At that stage I was told this was not a criminal matter so the police was out of the question.”

Hospital bosses have come under intense scrutiny for the steps taken to remove Letby from the unit following concerns by consultants.

The Government has ordered a non-statutory independent inquiry to probe the case, including the hospital’s handling of it, but families and politicians have called for it to be put on a judge-led statutory footing.

Asked whether it would be by reporters on Monday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “I think the important thing for the inquiry to do is make sure that families get the answers that they need, that it is possible for us to learn the lessons from what happened, everything conducted transparently and to happen as quickly as possible.”

But Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called for a statutory inquiry, saying what it “gives you is the power to order documents, to order witnesses to come forward so we get the fullest, proper, comprehensive analysis of what went wrong here”.

Ministers have also vowed to give judges the power to force a defendant to attend a sentencing hearing after Letby’s refusal, which comes amid growing calls following the non-attendance of the killers of Olivia Pratt-Korbel, Zara Aleena and Sabina Nessa.

The mother of Child E, a premature boy who died, and Child F, his twin brother, who survived, told the court that the nurse’s refusal to appear was “just one final act of wickedness from a coward”.

Mr Sunak described Letby as “cowardly”, while Justice Secretary Alex Chalk said it was “the final insult”.

“Cases like these make me even more determined to make sure the worst offenders attend court to face justice, when ordered by the judge,” he added.

“That’s why we are looking at options to change the law at the earliest opportunity to ensure that in the silence that follows the clang of the prison gate, society’s condemnation will be ringing in prisoners’ ears.”

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