Family of baby girl ‘heartbroken’ after killer nurse found guilty of attempted murder

The “heartbroken and angry” family of a baby girl targeted by killer nurse Lucy Letby say they may never know why she tried to murder her.

On Tuesday, Letby, 34, was found guilty at Manchester Crown Court of the attempted murder of the infant during a night shift at the Countess of Chester Hospital’s neo-natal unit.

Last August, Letby was convicted at the same court by another jury of the murders of seven babies and the attempted murders of six others at the unit between June 2015 and June 2016.

A verdict on the allegation concerning a baby girl, known as Child K, could not be reached and a retrial at the same court was ordered on that single count.

On Tuesday, Letby (pictured after her arrest) was convicted after three-and-half hours of deliberation by the fresh jury of trying to murder the “very premature” baby by dislodging her breathing tube in the early hours of February 17 2016.

Letby struck after the infant was moved from the delivery room to the neo-natal unit.

The youngster, born at 25 weeks’ gestation and weighing just 692g, was said by the prosecution to be the “epitome of fragility”.

About 90 minutes after her birth, Letby interfered with the breathing tube through which she was being ventilated with air and oxygen.

Consultant paediatrician Dr Ravi Jayaram caught her “virtually red-handed” as he entered the unit’s intensive care room at about 3.45am and he then went on to intervene and resuscitate Child K.

Dr Jayaram told jurors he saw “no evidence” that she had done anything to help the deteriorating baby as he walked in and saw her standing next to the infant’s incubator.

He said he heard no call for help from Letby or alarms sounding as Child K’s blood oxygen levels suddenly dropped.

Child K’s parents, sitting on the back row of the public gallery, gasped as the jury foreman delivered the verdict and then cried, while Letby blankly looked on from the dock.

In a statement later issued on the court steps, Child K’s family said: “Over the past seven to eight years we have to had to go through a long, torturous and emotional journey twice – from losing our precious newborn and grieving her loss to being told years later that her death or collapse might be suspicious.

“Today, justice has been served and a nurse who should have been caring for our daughter has been found guilty of harming her but this justice will not take away the extreme hurt, anger and distress that we have all had to experience.

“It also does not provide us with an explanation as to why these crimes have taken place.

“We are heartbroken, devastated, angry and feel numb. We may never truly know why this happened.”

From the witness box, Letby told the jury of six women and six men she had no recollection of the event described by Dr Jayaram and did not accept it had taken place.

She denied she did anything harmful to Child K and added that she had not committed any of the offences she had been convicted of.

Letby also denied the prosecution’s claims that she interfered with the infant’s breathing tube on two more occasions during the same shift to create the impression it was accidentally displaced.

Child K was transferred to a specialist hospital later on February 17 because of her extreme prematurity and died there three days later.

No post-mortem examination was conducted and the cause of death was certified as extreme prematurity and severe respiratory distress syndrome.

More than two years later on a late Friday night in April 2018, Letby searched on Facebook for Child K’s surname.

Prosecutor Nick Johnson KC said it was part of a pattern of similar Facebook searches as he told the jury: “The truth is that Lucy Letby had a fascination with the babies she had murdered and attempted to murder, and with their families. She took pleasure in her murderous handiwork.”

Letby was initially charged with the murder of Child K but the charge was dropped in June 2022 as the prosecution offered no evidence.

In May, Letby lost her Court of Appeal bid to challenge her convictions from last year.

Cheshire Constabulary said its review of the care of some 4,000 babies admitted to hospital while Letby was working as a neonatal nurse remains ongoing.

The period covers her spell at the Countess of Chester from January 2012 to the end of June 2016, and includes two work placements at Liverpool Women’s Hospital in 2012 and 2015.

Senior investigating officer Det Supt Paul Hughes said: “Whilst our investigation remains ongoing, we are unable to confirm any further specific information relating to individual babies or families.

“Out of respect of everyone involved we will not be commenting further at this stage. Further updates will follow at the appropriate time.”

A separate corporate manslaughter investigation at the hospital by Cheshire Constabulary also remains ongoing.

A public inquiry into how Letby was able to commit her crimes on the unit is set to begin at Liverpool Town Hall on September 10.

Letby, of Hereford, will be sentenced for the attempted murder on Friday morning.

She is already serving 14 whole life terms for the seven murders and seven attempted murders, with two bids to kill one child.

A court order prohibits reporting of the identities of the surviving and dead children involved in the case.

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