Killing babies was not on my mind, murder accused nurse tells jury

A murder accused nurse has told jurors that “killing babies” was not on her mind as she and friends looked forward to a holiday abroad.

Lucy Letby, 33, is alleged to have attempted to murder a baby boy at the Countess of Chester Hospital a day before she flew out to Ibiza with a colleague and a friend.

It is alleged she went on to murder a newborn triplet boy on her first shift back following her return from the Spanish island – and then killed his brother the next day.

Letby denies murdering seven babies and attempting to murder 10 others on the neonatal unit between June 2015 and June 2016.

On Tuesday, she agreed with her barrister Ben Myers KC that the allegations against her are of the “most grave nature”.

She said that in June 2016 she had a “busy, active life” outside of work, with “lots of” hobbies and friends.

Mr Myers asked her about an exchange of WhatsApp messages with a nurse, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, on June 13 in which they referenced packing and joked about appearing on Love Island.

Letby told Manchester Crown Court: “So myself, (the nurse) and the other person were going on holiday together.”

Mr Myers said: “How did you feel?”

Letby said: “We were excited. We were looking forward to it.”

Mr Myers said: “Are those people your friends?”

“Yes,” said Letby.

Mr Myers said: “And this is what you are chatting about?”

“Yes,” said Letby.

Mr Myers said: “You were going to have to go to work before you went away, how were you feeling about going to work?”

Letby said: “I was happy to go to work but I was also looking forward to time off and going on holiday.”

Mr Myers said: “In the middle of that were you planning on killing babies?”

Letby said: “No.”

Mr Myers said: “That’s what the prosecution are saying.”

Letby said: “That didn’t happen.”

Mr Myers said: “Is that what was on your mind?”

“No,” said Letby.

Letby denied first attacking Child N, a baby boy born with the blood clotting disorder haemophilia, in the early hours of June 3.

She said she was unaware his blood oxygen levels had dipped during her shift before he made a relatively swift recovery.

Twelve days later Child N had a profound deterioration at 7.15am on June 15, the court heard.

Letby said she looked after Child N on June 14 and did not recall any concerns with him but his condition had deteriorated by the time she arrived for duty the next morning.

She said she went to nursery three to talk to colleague Jennifer Jones-Key, who “was a good friend of mine”.

Letby said she was stood in the doorway – as her colleague tended to another baby in the room – when Child N’s monitor alarm sounded.

She said: “I went over and found him to be mottled and not breathing properly.

“He was a blueish colour. Straightaway I started Neopuffing (breathing support) and called for help.

“(Child N) recovered from that episode within minutes and the same thing then happened again.

“He dropped his saturations, his colour was not good and he was mottled.”

She said a registrar decided that Child N needed to be moved to nursery one, the intensive care room.

Mr Myers asked: “How long had you been on the unit?”

Letby said: “Minutes. I had just got to nursery three when this happened.”

Letby was on holiday from June 16 to June 22, the court heard.

On successive days on June 23 and 24 she is alleged to have murdered two triplet brothers, Child O and P.

Earlier, Letby said she was in a different nursery when a doctor alleged he saw her “doing nothing” when a baby girl collapsed on the unit.

The defendant is alleged to have deliberately dislodged the infant’s breathing tube shortly before a consultant walked into nursery one.

Giving evidence earlier this year, Dr Ravi Jayaram said he saw Letby standing by the incubator of Child K as her blood oxygen levels plummeted.

No alarms were sounding, he said, and he recalled the nurse was “doing nothing”.

On Tuesday, Letby said she was feeding another baby in nursery two at or shortly before 3.50am on February 17 2016.

Mr Myers asked: “Did you interfere with (Child K’s) tube?

“No,” replied Letby.

Mr Myers said: “Was there a time when you were in the nursery and Ravi Jayaram came in and he found you to be standing there close to (Child K)?”

Letby said: “No.”

Mr Myers said: “Do you recall any incident when you were present while (Child K) deteriorated and Ravi Jayaram was involved at about 3.50am?”

Letby said: “No I don’t.”

Mr Myers said: “Or at any other time?”

Letby said: “No.”

The defendant told the court she was feeding another baby at “roughly” 3.30am, which involved changing a nappy and giving 55ml of milk via a nasogastric tube.

Mr Myers asked: “How long would that take?”

Letby said: “Around half an hour potentially.”

Mr Myers said: “If that is ongoing do you have any reason to be in nursery one at or shortly before 3.50am?”

Letby replied: “No, I was with this baby.”

The Crown allege Letby struck less than two hours after the extremely premature youngster was born weighing 692 grammes.

Child K was transferred later that day on February 17 to Wirral’s Arrowe Park Hospital, where she died three days later.

The prosecution does not allege Letby caused her death.

Letby, from Hereford, denies all the allegations.

The trial continues on Wednesday.