UK: Serial child killer nurse Letby gets life in prison

Nurse Lucy Letby will spend the rest of her life behind bars with no chance of release. She has been found guilty of murdering seven newborns, injecting them with air or insulin

Representative image (Photo: DW)
Representative image (Photo: DW)


British nurse Lucy Letby was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of release on Monday, for killing seven newborn babies and attempting to kill another six.

Letby, who is considered the country's most prolific serial child killer in modern times, committed her crimes at the neonatal unit of Countess of Chester hospital in northern England over 13 months from 2015.

The 33-year-old convict killed five baby boys and two baby girls. She would inject the newborns with insulin or air, or force feed them milk.

What happened in the trial?

The prosecution said Letby mostly used night shifts to attack her prematurely born victims. Letby was removed from the neonatal unit and given clerical duties after the June 2016 deaths of two of a set of triplets. She was first arrested two years later, and only charged and placed in custody on her third arrest in late 2020.

The jury first deemed her guilty earlier in August of seven counts of murder and seven of attempted murder.

Jurors could not agree on whether she had attempted to kill six. She was acquitted of two other attempted murder charges.

On Monday, Letby refused to leave the cells to hear her sentence being handed down. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said it was "cowardly that people who commit such horrendous crimes do not face their victims."

"This was a cruel, calculated and cynical campaign of child murder involving the smallest and most vulnerable of children," said the judge, James Goss.

Goss stressed Letby's actions exhibited a "deep malevolence bordering on sadism," adding that she has "no remorse."

"There are no mitigating factors," he said. "You will spend the rest of your life in prison."

Whole life prison sentences are very rare in Britain. Only three women have received them before.

What did the families of the victims say?

During the trial, the court also heard from the families of Letby's victims.

"There is no sentence that will ever compare to the excruciating agony that we have suffered as a consequence of your actions," said the mother of one baby boy she murdered.

"You thought it was your right to play God with our children's lives," the mother of twins attacked in June 2015 said in a statement read to the court. One of the twins was killed in the attack.

The neonatal nurse's motives remain unclear.

The court heard that she took an interest in the families of her victims. She searched for their social media profiles and even sent on one occasion a sympathy card to the parents of a baby she was later found guilty of killing.

Letby has repeatedly denied harming the babies.

The UK government is launching an independent enquiry into the case. It will examine how hospital management addressed concerns by clinicians raised against her.

The hospital's management has been severely criticized for failing to act sooner on concerns about Letby, reportedly raised as early as 2015.

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Published: 22 Aug 2023, 9:26 AM