Lucy Letby, a British nurse, has been declared guilty of the murder of seven infants and the attempted murder of six others at the Countess of Chester Hospital in northwest England.
The shocking series of events took place between June 2015 and June 2016, within the hospital’s neonatal unit where Letby was employed. While she was acquitted of two attempted murder charges, the jury was unable to reach unanimous decisions on six other counts, despite over 110 hours of deliberations.
Following an extensive 10-month trial at Manchester Crown Court, Letby’s convictions have established her as the most prolific child serial killer in modern British history.
Timeline of crimes and alarms raised:
Murder of Child A — June 8, 2015: Born prematurely, child A was healthy when given to Letby during her night shift. His condition rapidly deteriorated, resulting in his death within 90 minutes of Letby’s presence.
Attempted murder of Child B – June 8-11, 2015: Approximately 28 hours after the death of Child A, Letby injected air into Child B. She survived after resuscitation.
Murder of Child C – June 14, 2015: Child C, born prematurely, died due to an air injection into his stomach by Letby.
Murder of Child D – June 22, 2015: Letby injected air into Child D’s bloodstream, causing her to collapse multiple times before her fatal third collapse.
Alarm Raised – July 2, 2015: Dr Stephen Brearey, head consultant of the neonatal unit, initiated a review after the unusual deaths. Letby’s consistent presence during these incidents raised suspicions.
Murder of Child E – August 4, 2015: Child E, born prematurely with his twin brother, was murdered by Letby after his mother found her in the act.
Attempted Murder of Child F – 5 August 2015: Letby laced Child F’s feeding bag with insulin, but he survived after medical intervention.
Attempted Murder of Child G – 7 September 2015: The most premature infant, Child G, faced three murder attempts by Letby over three weeks.
Attempted Murder of Child G – 21 September 2015: Five days after returning from the hospital following an earlier attempt, Letby again tried to harm Child G.
Murder of Child I – 23 October 2015: Described as “persistent, calculated, and cold-blooded,” Child I was killed by Letby’s air injection.
Alarm Raised – 23 October 2015: Concerns grew within the medical team about Letby’s presence during the unusual deaths.
Alarm Raised – 8 February 2016: A review led by Dr Brearey found common links in nine deaths since June 2015, pointing to Letby’s connection.
Attempted Murder of Child L – 9 April 2016: Letby poisoned Child L with insulin.
Attempted Murder of Child M – 9 April 2016: Child M suffered brain damage after Letby injected air into his body.
Alarm Raised – 11 May 2016: Dr Brearey expressed concerns about Letby’s actions, but they were dismissed by the administration.
Attempted Murder of Child N – 3 June 2016: Child N, born a few days earlier, was attacked by Letby.
Murder of Child O – 23 June 2016: Child O was murdered by Letby after returning from a holiday.
Murder of Child P – 24 June 2016: Child P was murdered by Letby shortly after the death of his sibling.
Despite the growing concerns, it was only in July 2016 that Letby was removed from her role within the neonatal unit. The hospital administration contacted the police almost a year later, leading to her arrest in July 2018.
The hospital’s medical director, Ian Harvey, expressed his determination to maintain the safety of the baby unit and support the staff. He called for thorough reviews to provide answers to the affected families. Alison Kelly, the director of nursing and deputy chief executive, committed to learning from the tragedy and cooperating with an independent inquiry.
Letby’s reign of terror has prompted an urgent reevaluation of the healthcare system and highlighted the importance of preventing such horrifying incidents in the future.