Convicted murderer Lucy Letby ‘never intended or tried to harm baby in her care’

Convicted multiple murderer Lucy Letby has told a jury she has never intended or tried to harm any baby in her care.

Letby, 34, is on trial at Manchester Crown Court accused of the attempted murder of a baby girl, known as Child K, while she was working a night shift at the Countess of Chester Hospital’s neo-natal unit on February 17 2016.

Letby was convicted last August by another jury of the murders of seven babies and the attempted murders of six others at the hospital between June 2015 and June 2016, but a verdict could not be reached on the allegation involving Child K.

The prosecution say consultant paediatrician Dr Ravi Jayaram walked into the unit’s intensive care nursery room, less than two hours after Child K’s birth, and said he saw Letby standing next to the incubator “doing nothing”, as the infant’s blood oxygen levels dipped but no monitor alarms sounded.

On Monday Letby, wearing a black jacket and navy blue top, gave evidence at her retrial.

Entrance of the Countess of Chester Hospital
The Countess of Chester Hospital (PA)

She swore an oath on the Bible and confirmed her full name, date of birth, her age and that she was 26 at the time of the alleged incident.

Ben Myers KC, defending, then asked: “Did you attempt to murder (Child K)?”

Letby said: “No.”

Mr Myers said: “Did you intend to do her any harm at all?”

“No,” she repeated.

Mr Myers said: “Do you accept you have ever intended to hurt any baby in your care?”

Letby replied: “No I don’t.”

Mr Myers went on: “Do you accept that you have ever tried to harm any baby in your care?”

“No,” she said.

Letby told the jury of six women and six men that she did not recall the particular events said to have taken place in nursery one, the intensive care room, at about 3.50am.

Mr Myers said: “Do you remember seeing (Child K) in nursery one at any point?”

“Yes,” said Letby.

Mr Myers said: “Do you remember exactly when that was?”

Letby replied: ” No, I can’t be specific to timings.”

Mr Myers said: “You know the allegation, based on the evidence of Dr Jayaram, is that he says he came in and (Child K) was desaturating to the low 80s and you were standing there doing nothing and no alarm was sounding, you understand that?”

“Yes,” said Letby.

Mr Myers said: “Do you recall any incident where Dr Jayaram comes in when something like that was happening?”

Letby replied: “No.”

Mr Myers said: “Do you have any recollection of Dr Jayaram coming into nursery one when you were there by yourself?”

Letby said: “No I don’t.”

Mr Myers said: “Do you recall saying that (Child K) had just started to desaturate?”

“No,” said Letby.

Mr Myers said: “Do you remember being there at all at that time in those circumstances?”

Letby repeated: “No.”

Mr Myers said: “Was there any incident that morning where you were trying to hurt (Child K)?

“No,” said Letby.

Mr Myers added: “Or you were not giving her the help that she needed?”

Letby said: “No.”

Mr Myers said: “When you say you don’t recall an incident like the one Dr Jayaram describes, by doing so do you accept that it happened?”

“No,” said Letby.

Mr Myers said: “We have seen that there is a Facebook search on April 20 2018 for the name (Child K’s surname)?”

Letby said: “Yes.”

Mr Myers said: “Why were you searching for (Child K’s surname) on your Facebook a little over two years after this event is said to have taken place? ”

Letby replied: “I’m not sure. I don’t have recollection of doing that at the time or now why I did.”

Mr Myers said: “Is it linked to any attempt to do her harm? ”

Letby said: “No.”

Lucy Letby mug shot
Lucy Letby denies a single count of attempted murder (Cheshire Constabulary/PA)

Child K was transferred to a specialist hospital later on February 17 because of her extreme prematurity. She died there three days later, although the prosecution does not allege Letby caused her death.

Letby, of Hereford, denies a single count of attempted murder.

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

Opening the case, prosecutor Nick Johnson KC alleged Letby was also responsible for two further desaturations of Child K during the same shift in a bid to give her colleagues the impression the infant was habitually displacing her own breathing tube.

Mr Myers said: “The allegation is that some time after 6.10am (Child K) has a desaturation which you caused by interfering with the tube. Did you do that?”

Letby said: “No I didn’t.”

The defendant said she did not have any recollection of the third desaturation said to have taken place at about 7.30am, around the time of shift handover.

Mr Myers said: Did you at any point try to hurt (Child K) that night?”

“No,” said Letby.

Mr Myers said: “Did you try to interfere with her tube to make it look like she was unwell and desaturating for no apparent reasons?”

Letby said: “Absolutely not.”

Mr Myers said: “To try to cover your tracks?”

“No,” said Letby.

Mr Myers went through her answers to detectives when she was questioned about Child K following her arrest.

When asked about Child K’s tube slipping and her becoming desaturated, she said she was relying on the medical notes made by another nurse.

She told police she could not herself actually recall being alone in the room with Child K, she said.

And she said she only remembered Child K because, at 25 weeks gestation, it was an unusual child to have on the unit.

Mr Myers asked Letby about a detective asking her, ‘Explain what you were doing when Dr Jayaram walked into the nursery’.

Mr Myers continued: “The question is put to you like a fact. Had you actually agreed you were there in the first place?”

“No,” Letby replied.

Mr Myers continued quoting a detective’s question to Letby: “‘Tell me what would have happened if Dr Jayaram had not walked in when you were stood by the incubator’.”

He continued: “Have you ever agreed there was ever a time when he walked in to see you stood by the incubator?”

Letby replied: “No.”

Mr Myers said: “Do you remember anything like that happening?”

“No,” Letby replied again.

Mr Myers said the police officer then asked Letby why she did not “call for help” when Child K’s tube became dislodged and her oxygen levels began to fall.

He continued: “Were you agreeing you were there in the first place to call for help?”

“No,” Letby again said.

Mr Myers asked why Letby had suggested Child K may have “self corrected” with time after her oxygen levels had dropped.

Letby said: “I was trying to be helpful at the time. They were asking me questions, which I believed were factually correct.

Mr Myers said: “Do you accept you were in the nursery not helping Child K?”

Letby replied: “No, I don’t.”

Mr Johnson, cross-examining, asked Letby: “What were you doing on Facebook on April 20 2018?”

Letby said: “From my notes I looked up (Child K’s surname) on Facebook.”

Mr Johnson said: “When (Child K) left the Countess of Chester she didn’t have a first name, did she? I think she had been named when she left. That’s why you were searching for (Child K’s surname) wasn’t it?”

Letby said: “I don’t recall why I was searching for (Child K’s surname).”

Mr Johnson said: “Just like you don’t recall whether you were in nursery one at about 3.45am?”

Letby said: “No, I don’t recall.”

Mr Johnson said: “If a nurse deliberately displaced the ET (endrotracheal) tube of a child of (Child K’s) gestation, what would likely happen?”

Letby replied: “That’s a hypothetical question.”

Mr Johnson said: “Why would you not displace an ET tube?”

Letby said: “Because you would have no need to. That tube is there for that baby to breathe.”

Mr Johnson said: “Why would you not displace it? ”

Letby said: “It would cause harm to a baby. They couldn’t breathe without that tube.”

Mr Johnson said: “Do you agree that you are likely to kill that baby if you did that deliberately?”

“Yes,” said Letby.

Mr Johnson said: “Would you agree that the baby is more likely to die if you don’t try to something about it quickly?”

“Yes,” repeated Letby.

Mr Johnson said: “And doing something like that to a child of (Child K’s) age is likely to kill them or at least severely compromise their prospects of survival?”

Letby replied: “Yes, any baby.”

Mr Johnson said: “Particularly a baby of (Child K’s) gestational age?”

“Yes,” said Letby.

Mr Johnson said: “And that’s what you did, isn’t it?”

“No,” said Letby.

Mr Johnson said: “You actually did it three times, didn’t you?”

“No,” said Letby.

Mr Johnson said: “Does it come to this, because you are saying you are not the sort of person that kills babies, you would not do that?”

Letby said: “I know my actions and I know I didn’t displace that tube.”

Mr Johnson said:”But you are just that sort of person. aren’t you?”

“No,” said Letby.

Mr Johnson said:” You have killed seven babies in that unit, haven’t you? ”

Letby said: “No I have not.”

Mr Johnson said: “And you tried to kill six others, one on two separate occasions, didn’t you?”

“No,” said Letby.

Mr Johnson said: “Therefore what Dr Jayaram says cannot be right, is that your case?”

Letby said:”Yes. I didn’t dislodge any tube.”

Mr Johnson said: “Are you suggesting he is not telling the truth?”

Letby said: “I don’t think I comment on whether he is telling the truth, I just know that didn’t happen.