Nurse Lucy Letby ‘caught virtually red-handed’ dislodging premature baby’s breathing tube: prosecutors

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Nurse Lucy Letby ‘caught virtually red-handed’ dislodging premature baby’s breathing tube: prosecutors

Former nurse Lucy Letby has denied tampering with a premature baby’s breathing tube in an attempt to murder the child, though prosecutors say that she was caught “virtually red-handed.” 

Lucy Letby is on trial in Manchester Crown Court for the attempted murder of a baby known as “Baby K” while working the night shirt at the Countess of Chester Hospital’s neonatal unit on Feb. 17, 2016. 

Letby, 34, was convicted last August for the murders of seven babies and the attempted killing of six more between July 2015 and June 2016. But that jury was unable to come to a conclusion regarding the allegations concerning “Baby K,” and a retrial was ordered.

The disgraced nurse attacked infants by injecting insulin, milk or air into their bodies, leading to their sudden deterioration, per details shared in her first trial. She was accused of physically assaulting one baby, causing a liver injury akin to a road traffic collision. In total, 17 babies – all but one premature – were murdered or injured by Letby, Fox News Digital previously reported.

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This undated handout issued by Cheshire Constabulary shows nurse Lucy Letby. (Cheshire Constabulary via AP)

Letby is accused of displacing the infant’s endotracheal tube less than two hours after she was born on February 17, 2016. But in court on Tuesday, Letby told jurors that she did “nothing to harm [the baby,]” The Guardian reported, and that she was “not guilty of what [she] was found guilty.”

A senior doctor, Dr. Ravi Jayaram, caught Letby “virtually red-handed” when he walked into the nursery’s intensive care room around 3:45 a.m. that evening, prosecutors say. The doctor allegedly saw Letby doing nothing to help as the infant’s blood oxygen levels plummeted and alarms on a monitor failed to sound. 

In the hours that followed on the same shift, Letby allegedly attempted to interfere with the infant’s replacement tubes on two more occasions. 

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Letby being escorted by police

Letby, a former nurse at Countess of Cheshire Hospital, was convicted on August 18, 2023, of murdering seven babies, and attempting to murder six more, in the hospital’s neonatal ward between 2015 and 2016. (Cheshire Constabulary via Getty Images)

Letby said in court that it was the hospital’s policy to wait and see if a baby “self-corrects” rather than immediately intervening in these situations.

But Elizabeth Morgan, a nursing advisory consultant, said that it would “not be normal nursing policy” to let Baby K “self-correct,” given that she was born 15 weeks premature and weighed just over 1 pound.

“That’s her opinion,” Letby said when asked about Morgan’s statement, The Guardian reported. “I can’t say it’s right or wrong. I just know what the policy was in Chester.”

Prosecutor Attorney Nick Johnson questioned whether the policy applied to babies as premature as Baby K. 

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Hand writing inside a sympathy card.

A sympathy card sent from nurse Lucy Letby to the parents of a murdered baby. (Cheshire Constabulary/CPS)

“For any baby,” Letby replied. “There isn’t a policy, but from my experience of working at Liverpool Women’s [hospital] and at the Countess of Chester, you would not immediately put your hands in the incubator and start doing something because the baby would often self-correct quite quickly.”

“You are lying because you were caught cold by Dr. Jayaram,” Johnson said. 

“No,” replied Letby.

Neonatal nurse Lucy Letby

Neonatal nurse Lucy Letby, 33, is alleged to have murdered seven babies and attempted to kill 10 more. (Credit: SWNS)

Letby agreed that the child was given an infusion of morphine around 4 a.m. and that a portable X-ray showed the breathing tube in the correct location around 6:10 a.m.

But the child desaturated again 15 minutes later, just as prosecutors suggest Letby went into the nursery to retrieve notes. After the child had been destabilized a third and final time, the breathing tube was found to have moved a fifth of the way in from where a doctor had placed it, prosecutors said. 

“That’s because you pushed it in, didn’t you?” Johnson said.

Letby replied, “No.”

Letby said her only memory of the child in question was that she was extremely premature. But Johnson said Letby’s Facebook records show that she searched for the family’s surname two years after the child left the neonatal unit and 10 weeks before her first police interview in July 2018. 

Lucy Letby court sketch

A court sketch shows Lucy Letby appearing at Warrington Magistrates’ Court via videolink. (SWNS)

“[Baby K was] a child who, I suggest, you remembered very well,” Johnson said. Letby denied the accusation. 

During cross-examination, Johnson asked Letby directly whether she “tried to kill [Baby K].”

“Thereafter, you tried to create the impression that [Baby K] was habitually desaturating and dislodging her own tube, didn’t you?” he asked.

“No,” Letby replied. 

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“Just like you tried to kill six other babies?” Johnson said. “And you succeeded with murdering seven other children?”

“No,” the former nurse said. 

Baby K was referred to a specialist hospital due to her extreme prematurity on Feb. 17, 2016, The Independent reported. The child died there three days later. The prosecution does not allege that Letby caused her death. 

Letby’s trial resumes next Monday, when a judge will begin to sum up the facts of the case to a jury of six men and six women after closing arguments from defense attorneys and prosecutors.

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