A neonatal nurse at a British hospital accused of killing seven babies and attempting to kill 10 more deliberately poisoned two infants with insulin, a British prosecutor said Monday. Lucy Letby, 32, has been charged with murder in the deaths of five babies and two girls and attempted murder of five boys and five girls while working at the Countess of Chester Hospital in north-west England between 2015 and 2016.
Letby earlier pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The BBC reported that the court heard that a mother entered Letby as she was allegedly killing her baby. Manchester Crown Court heard the child’s mother – identified by the initial ‘E’ – did not realize she was being attacked and the nurse said the blood from his mouth was due to a tube.
Letby is charged with the murder of child ‘E’ and the attempted murder of his twin child ‘F’ the following day, the BBC reported.
Opening her trial at Manchester Crown Court, prosecutor Nick Johnson said that starting in 2015, the hospital saw a significant increase in the number of babies dying or suffering “severe catastrophic collapses”.
“Babies who were not at all unsettled suddenly got worse. Sometimes babies who were sick but then nursed suddenly got worse for no apparent reason,” he told the jury.
He said when doctors were unable to find the cause, police were called and an investigation showed that someone in the neonatal unit had poisoned two infant boys with insulin two days after they were born. The two boys’ blood sugar levels dropped to dangerous levels, Johnson said, but both survived after being helped by medical personnel.
Johnson said Letby was on duty when both were poisoned. He added that prosecutors believed the collapses and deaths of all 17 babies were the work of Letby, who he described as a “constant malevolent presence” in the hospital’s neonatal unit when the children collapsed or died.
The first baby allegedly targeted by Letby was a premature boy who was killed just one day old in June 2015, Johnson said.
The prosecutor claimed Letby injected air into the child’s bloodstream, and a medical expert said the most likely reason for the baby’s collapse was air deliberately administered “by someone who knew it would cause significant harm.”
Family members of some of Letby’s alleged victims sat in the courtroom, while Letby’s parents were also present.
Jurors were told the trial could last up to six months, the BBC reported.
Police launched an investigation into the deaths of some of the babies at the hospital in May 2017. Letby was arrested three times in connection with the deaths before being charged in November 2020.