Neonatal nurse Lucy Letby told detectives that it was ‘bad luck’ that she was involved in the collapses of four babies when she was questioned about the 2015 incidents that saw three infants die, a jury heard today.
Letby, 33, claimed that neither she nor other staff had questioned what had caused the ‘spike’ of three deaths and one near-death on the neonatal unit in the single month of June eight years ago.
When an officer pointed out that she had been involved in all four collapses during an interview, she attributed it to bad luck.
During the interview, one detective suggests to Letby: ‘It must have been devastating.’
Letby replies: ‘Yes’. Backing up why she did not question the spike in deaths, she added: ‘I didn’t think there was maybe anything to be looked into. It was just a shock for everybody.’
The officer later points out that she was involved in all four collapses, adding: ‘What do you put that down to? Bad luck?’
Letby replies: ‘Yes’.
Neonatal nurse Lucy Letby (pictured) denied murdering a baby within six minutes of having a ‘frustrating and upsetting’ WhatsApp conversation with an off-duty colleague, a jury heard today
Jurors also heard that Letby denied murdering a baby within six minutes of having a ‘frustrating and upsetting’ WhatsApp conversation with an off-duty colleague.
The nurse agreed with a detective interviewing her over the deaths of seven babies at the Countess of Chester Hospital that she had been at the cot-side of Baby C at the time he collapsed. But she insisted she had not murdered him.
She also denied having done anything to cause his vocal cords to swell so much that a doctor failed three times to intubate him.
And she claimed to have no recollection of holding up a Moses basket and telling the dying infant’s parents: ‘You’ve said your goodbyes now, do you want to put him in here’.
An officer told the alleged killer that the father felt ‘shocked and upset’ by the remark, particularly as Baby C was still alive despite medics having halted their attempts to resuscitate him.
Jurors were taken through a summary of numerous interviews Letby gave Cheshire Police following her original arrest in July 2018.
In one recording, Letby told the detective: ‘I don’t recall saying it. I don’t recall that conversation’ about the Moses basket.
The jury at Manchester Crown Court was told how shortly before C’s death in the intensive care Nursery 1 the neonatal nurse had been in a WhatsApp conversation with colleague Jenny Jones-Key.
From memory Letby believes she was either in Nursery 3, where she was the designated nurse to a healthier baby, or at the nurses’ station at the time she was messaging from her mobile.
She told Jones-Key that she kept thinking about the day that Baby A had died the previous week, and seeing the image in her mind’s eye of him lying in his cot.
When her colleague suggested she needed to take a break, she reacted with a message, sent at 11.09pm on June 30, 2015, that read: ‘Forget it. I’m obviously making more of it than I should’.
During the police interview a detective asked her how the conversation had made her feel.
‘Frustrated,’ said Letby. She agreed it made her feel ‘like Jenny didn’t understand’ how she was feeling.
She went on: ‘I just remember feeling I wasn’t getting anywhere with the conversation’.
Letby also agreed she had told Jones-Key that working in Nursery 3 was ‘eating me up’.
The officer pointed out that six minutes after the 11.09pm message Baby C had collapsed, then went on to tell Letby: ‘You were the only staff member there and you were seen at his cot-side when the alarm sounded. You were feeling frustrated and upset at the time. Do you agree?’
Letby replies: ‘Yes’.
Officer: ‘You’ve then gone on to attack (Baby) C’.
‘No,’ says Letby.
And she repeated the answer when asked a moment later: ‘Did you murder C?’
Letby, originally from Hereford, denies murdering seven babies and attempting to murder a further ten.
Letby is currently on trial at Manchester Crown Court (pictured)
Quizzed about Baby A, Letby agreed it was her who had noticed a change in the baby’s colour on the day of his fatal collapse.
Although unable to specifically recall when his monitors alarmed, she also agreed she had been standing next to his ventilator at the time.
The officer asks: ‘Is it at that point that you harmed (Baby) A?’
Officer: ‘Is that the point at which you murdered (Baby) A?’
Asked about the baby receiving an injection of air, she said: ‘It would be very hard to push air through a long line. It’s a hard pressure to push through’.
The nurse denied deliberately injecting the baby with air, but could offer no explanation for his collapse.
She told the officer she did not know a lot about air embolism – one of the methods the prosecution says she used to kill some of her alleged victims.
‘We were always told to make sure there was no air in a long line because that would be dangerous to patients.
‘I know that from when I first started to learn about fluids. It’s something that all nursing staff are very meticulous about and are aware of the consequences of getting it wrong’.
She claimed not to know what harm an air embolism might actually cause, but was aware that ‘you just didn’t want it going into the bloodstream’.
In a later interview Letby was told that expert witnesses believed Baby A had been injected with air. She told the officer: ‘I didn’t deliberately give him any air’.
She acknowledged having carried out Facebook searches on the infant’s mother both shortly after A’s death and again in the September, but said she was ‘not sure’ what she had been looking for. She added: ‘I’m not sure I was looking for anything’.
Asked specifically about the September search, she suggested she may have wanted to know ‘how the family was doing’.
The officer asks why, and Letby replies: ‘Because you think about the babies on the unit at times and wonder about them and what they’re doing’.
Letby recalled Baby A’s twin sister, Baby B, looking more mottled than he had done. Her mottling had a purply-red, rash-like appearance.
She was aware from an early handover with a colleague that the twins’ parents had waited a long time to have children, so they were ‘very much wanted babies’.
Asked whether she had treated them any differently because of that knowledge, she replied: ‘You just bear in mind what they’ve been through to get to this point’.
The officer asks whether she injected the baby girl with air at the time a TPN feeding bag was being attached, Letby replied: ‘No. I didn’t do anything deliberate to (Baby) B to harm her’.
Officer: ‘Are you responsible for her attempted murder, Lucy?’
‘No,’ says the nurse.
Jurors were taken through a summary of numerous interviews Letby (pictured with another baby in 2012) gave Cheshire Police following her original arrest in July 2018
Letby told detectives she had found the death of Baby C ‘quite hard’ because he had continued gasping for several hours before finally dying once resuscitation had been halted.
Medics had extended their attempts to revive him while a vicar made his way to the hospital to baptise him.
The neonatal nurse said the infant’s death had been the first experienced by her colleague, Sophie Ellis, and she had been ‘particularly upset’ by it.
Letby told officers she had no recollection of Baby D’s collapse. Asked about the Facebook searches she carried out on her family, she said: ‘I don’t know what I was looking for, but I would not be looking for photos of dead babies’.
She had found it ‘upsetting’ to see Baby E vomit blood before his collapse and death. She had prepared a memory box for his parents ‘as a matter of course’.
‘I found it very helpful to spend some time with him. I found it quite a privilege that mum and dad wanted me to do that for them’.
She denied putting insulin into his system and asked the officers if the relevant TPN bag might have been retained and stored in the sluice room. They said they would investigate that.
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