British nurse charged with murders of eight babies

Children's nurse, 30, is also charged with trying to murder 10 more after probe into hospital infant deaths

By: News Desk      Published: 11:03 AM, 12 Nov, 2020
British nurse charged with murders of eight babies

Police in the northwestern English city Chester said Wednesday they had charged a nurse with eight counts of murder and ten of attempted murder against babies at a local hospital.

A 30-year-old named as Lucy Letby was arrested on Tuesday and charged with the crimes once prosecutors gave the go-ahead, Cheshire police said in a statement.

The charges relate to "a number of baby deaths and non-fatal collapses at the neonatal unit at the Countess of Chester Hospital" between June 2015 and June 2016, they added.

Letby is being held in custody ahead of a first appearance before magistrates in nearby Warrington on Thursday.

She had previously been arrested but released without charge in 2018 and 2019.

"Lucy Letby, of Arran Avenue, Hereford, is facing eight charges of murder and 10 charges of attempted murder," a spokesperson of Cheshire police said, as quoted by The Sun. 

"The Crown Prosecution Service has authorised Cheshire Police to charge a healthcare professional with murder in connection with an ongoing investigation into a number of baby deaths at the Countess of Chester Hospital."

An internal probe was launched when medical professionals found premature babies had died due to heart and lung failure.

Letby's friends and family during that time insisted the "awkward but kind-hearted" nurse was innocent.

Letby, 30, had first been detained by Cheshire Police back in 2018 after a spike in the number of deaths at the hospital. The Chester University graduate, who was once the face of a £3 million fundraising campaign and had also worked at Liverpool Women's Hospital, was re-arrested over the same alleged offences in 2019 and again earlier this week.

According to Daily Mail, police launched an investigation after the hospital raised concerns at the high number of deaths between March 2015 and July 2016 - which were said to be 10 percent above average.

An internal inquiry was undertaken when medics found premature babies had died following heart and lung failure, but were unusually impossible to resuscitate.

Speaking after she was arrested earlier this week, Detective Chief Inspector Paul Hughes from Cheshire Police said: 'It has been more than three years since we first launched an investigation into a number of baby deaths and non-fatal collapses at the neonatal unit at The Countess of Chester Hospital.

'In that time a dedicated team of detectives has been working extremely hard on this highly complex and very sensitive case doing everything they can as quickly as they can to identify what has led to these baby deaths and collapses.

'In July 2018, a healthcare professional was arrested on suspicion of murder in relation to the deaths of eight babies and the attempted murder of six babies at the neonatal unit at The Countess of Chester Hospital.

'She was subsequently bailed pending further inquiries.

'In June 2019, the healthcare professional was rearrested on suspicion of murder in relation to the deaths of eight babies and the attempted murder of six babies.

'She was also arrested in connection with the attempted murder of three additional babies.

'On November 10, as part of our ongoing inquiries, the healthcare professional has been rearrested on suspicion of murder in relation to the deaths of eight babies and the attempted murder of nine babies.' 

Police launched an investigation into infant deaths at the hospital in May 2017.

The investigation was later widened to the deaths of 17 babies and 16 non-fatal collapses between March 2015 and July 2016.

The probe came after the hospital raised concerns at the high number of deaths between March 2015 and July 2016 - which was said to be 10 percent higher than average.

Two babies had passed away at the site in 2013 but by 2015 it had quadrupled to eight.

An internal inquiry was undertaken when medics found premature babies had died following heart and lung failure but were unusually impossible to resuscitate.

A report also found that the infants had unusual blotches on their arms and legs after their deaths.

But a cause of death could not be established and police were asked to look into the case in 2017.

Following her previous arrests, Letby's £180,000 home in the Blacon area of Chester was searched by police, as was her parents' in Hereford.

Despite the allegations against her, a friend previously described Letby as a 'professional nurse' who was dedicated to her 'dream job' and 'wouldn't hurt a fly'.

The woman, who wished to remain anonymous, said: 'We're still reeling from it to be honest.

'Even after sleeping on it I think everybody around here is still in a state of shock and disbelief.

'Lucy was doing the job she dreamed of doing and appeared nothing but dedicated and professional. You can't imagine her hurting a fly let alone defenceless babies.'

Another resident on the street, who also did not want to be named, added: 'I can't add much more to what's been already said about her.

'I knew her when she was a little girl and she was as sweet as anything. I've seen her grow up and she seemed a lovely woman.'