Nurses who worked with Lucy Letby told her she was ‘having a tough time’ and was ‘on a terrible run of having very bad luck’ after four babies died in her care, a court has heard.
Letby, 32, is standing trial charged with killing seven babies and the attempted murder of a further 10 at the Countess of Chester Hospital between between June 2015 and June 2016.
Jurors at Manchester Crown Court were today shown a series of text messages between the neonatal nurse and colleagues in the aftermath of the death of five-day-old Baby E.
The prosecution allege that she murdered the infant with an injection of air.
At 8.58am on August 4 a colleague asked: ‘You ok? Just heard about E. Did you have him? Sending hugs xxx’
Letby replied: ‘News travels fast – who told you? Yeah, I had them both. Was horrible.’
The colleague then asked if Child E had been poorly or if his collapse was sudden, before adding: ‘Poor you. You’re having a tough time of it.’
Letby told her colleagues that the baby had a massive gastro-intestinal bleed, to which the other nurse responded: ‘Damn. He’d always struggled feeding…I just feel for his parents and you. You’ve had really tough times recently’.
The court was also shown footage of the neonatal ward at the Countess of Chester Hospital, where Letby worked
The footage shown to the jury showed the ward where Letby is alleged to have killed seven babies
Lucy Letby, 32, originally from Hereford, denies murdering seven babies and attempting to murder a further ten
The alleged killer then went on to describe how she felt ‘just awful’ and reported that the parents were distraught, saying: ‘I feel numb’.
In a second text conversation, fellow nurse Jennifer Jones-Key asked: ‘Hey, how’s you?’
Letby replied: ‘Not so good. We lost E overnight’.
Ms Jones-Key said: ‘That’s sad. You’re on a terrible run at the moment. Were you in Room 1?’
Letby replied: ‘I had him and [Baby] F’.
Expressing sympathy, Ms Jones-Key then said: ‘That’s not good. You need a break from it being on your shift’.
Letby replied: ‘It’s the luck of the draw unfortunately…Only three trained (nurses), so I ended up having them both’.
Her colleague responded: ‘You seem to be having some very bad luck though’.
Letby then said: ‘Not a lot I could do really. He had a massive haemorrhage. It could happen to any baby really’.
Ms Jones-Key accepted that her colleague had done ‘everything you could’, adding that she had previously dealt with a haemorrhage in a baby and it was ‘horrible’ to see.
The alleged killer then said: ‘This was abdominal. I’ve only seen pulmonary before’.
Her colleague also asked after Baby E’s parents, to which she was told: ‘Ok. Tired. They’ve just gone to bed’.
On August 9, four days after Letby is alleged to have followed up the murder of Baby E with the insulin poisoning of another infant, she gave an account of saying her goodbyes to the ’ parents.
She told Ms Jones-Key that both parents had cried and hugged her, ‘saying they’d never be able to thank me enough for the love and carer I gave them’.
Her colleague replied: ‘It’s heart-breaking, but you have done your job to the highest standard with compassion and professionalism.
Jurors at Manchester Crown Court were today shown a series of text messages between the neonatal nurse (pictured) and colleagues in the aftermath of the death of five-day-old Baby E
‘When you can’t save a baby you can try to make sure that the loss of their child is their only regret. You should feel very proud of yourself’.
Letby said: ‘I just feel sad that they’re thinking of me when they’ve lost him’.
Just over three months later, Letby was told that the parents of Baby E and Baby F had come into the neonatal unit with a ‘gorgeous huge hamper’ for the staff. She was also told their surviving son looks ‘fab’.
Letby said: ‘Oh gosh, did they? I wish I could have seen them. That will stay with me forever’.
Phone records shown to the jury reveal that in November, December and January, Letby carried out numerous Facebook searches on the parents of E and F, and of the parents of Baby G and Baby J.
At 11.26pm on Christmas Day 2015, she carried out the latest of a series of searches on the mother of E and F.
Earlier today, the mother of Baby E told the jury that the defendant asked her to leave the room while her son was screaming and bleeding.
The first-time mother wept today as she told the court she agreed to leave her screaming baby in the care of Letby because ‘she was in authority, she knew better than me and I trusted her completely’.
She also told how after her son’s death in 2015 she was too ‘broken’ to bathe him, so Letby bathed him in front of her.
The woman had found the infant in extreme distress when she left the post-natal ward to take expressed milk to the room where Letby was in sole charge of him.
‘I could hear my son crying, and it was like nothing I’d heard before,’ the woman told the jury at Manchester Crown Court.
‘It was more a scream than a cry – a sound that shouldn’t come from a tiny baby. It was horrendous.
‘I walked over to the incubator to see blood coming out of his mouth, and I panicked. I was panicking because I felt like there was something wrong’.
Letby, 32, remained at a workstation to the side of Baby E’s incubator as the mother went to the infant and tried to calm him by placing one hand on his head and another on his stomach’.
‘I asked Lucy Letby why he was bleeding and what was wrong. She said the feeding tube from the back of his throat will have caused the blood’.
The mother accepted that explanation and carried on trying to comfort her baby.
The infant, who was in the room with Baby F, was still crying 10 minutes later when Letby persuaded the mother to go back to the post-natal ward.
Asked by Nick Johnson, KC, prosecuting, why she did as the nurse had told her, she replied: ‘Because she was in authority and she knew better than me – and I trusted her completely’.
Letby said a registrar was on his way to the unit and if there was a problem someone would ring up to the post-natal ward to let her know.
The mother returned to the ward but immediately rang her husband. ‘I knew there was something very wrong. I needed to speak to him. I needed to tell him’.
Nearly two hours later she was told to return to the neonatal unit urgently, and to alert her husband to the fact that Baby E had collapsed.
She arrived to see a team of medics trying desperately to save her son’s life.
The mother told the court that all the time she had been back in the post-natal ward she had been ‘packing and waiting and waiting because I was following the rules. I was told that if there was a problem I’d be told.
‘The rules were ‘Go back upstairs and if there’s a problem I’ll call you’. That was Lucy Letby. I followed the rules’.
The mother cried quietly as she recalled some of her son’s final moments and the events that followed.
She sipped water from a plastic cup and on one occasion took off her glasses so she could wipe her eyes with a tissue.
Letby watched from the glass-panelled dock as she gave her evidence.
His mother said that following his death on August 3, 2015, Letby had asked her whether she would like to bathe him.
‘At that moment I didn’t feel I was able to,’ she said. ‘I was just broken and I couldn’t. So Lucy Letby bathed him in front of me in the neonatal unit.
A first-time mother wept today as she told the court she agreed to leave her screaming baby in the care of Letby (pictured) because ‘she was in authority, she knew better than me and I trusted her completely’
‘After he was bathed he was placed in a white gown, and I remember being thankful because we had no clothes for him because he was so little’.
The woman and her husband had a conversation with a female doctor about a possible post mortem. She told the couple it would not tell us any more than she was telling them, and would delay the transfer of their surviving child to a hospital closer to their home.
Baby F was still being cared for on the unit when Letby gave the mother a memory box that included his brother’s footprints, a lock of his hair, a candle, a teddy and a card with bearing photographs of him.
‘I was just so overcome with emotion that this had been provided for me, because I had no other memories apart from that’.
Later the couple swapped the infants’ teddies, so that E got F’s and F got E’s.
A few days after handing the grieving parents the memory box Letby gave the mother a photograph of him ‘holding’ E’s teddy.
The mother had just made one of her daily visits to the hospital’s chapel of rest. ‘Lucy Letby told me ‘I got this picture. I thought it was so amazing I took a picture for you’. She was suggesting F had rolled over and cuddled the bear’.
The mother later sent a thank you card to staff at the neonatal unit, featuring a photograph of Baby F.
His mother confirmed to Mr Johnson that he had never had any unusual bleeding issues.
She told Ben Myers, KC, defending, that the blood had been on Baby E’s lip, extending down towards his chin and partly on his neck. ‘It was smudged. It didn’t look completely dry, and it was dark’.
‘I could hear my son crying, and it was like nothing I’d heard before,’ the woman told the jury at Manchester Crown Court (stock image)
The mother revealed that she had only gone to the Countess of Chester Hospital for her C-section on July 29 because her first choice, the Liverpool Women’s Hospital, had no spare capacity.
By the babies’ second day they were both doing so well that arrangements were being made for them to be transferred to the LWH.
‘They were just waiting for two ambulances to be available. I was under the impression that both of my babies were well enough to travel’.
Baby E was managing ‘beautifully’ out of his incubator, while his brother was ‘great’.
‘I was still sensitive and sore and fragile, but I was over the moon. My two boys were perfect’.
Letby, 32, originally from Hereford, denies murdering seven babies and attempting to murder a further ten.
The trial continues.
Full indictment against Lucy Letby
Lucy Letby is charged as follows:
Count 1 – Charged with murder of Baby A on June 8, 2015
Count 2 – Charged with attempted murder of Baby B between the June 8, 2015 and June 11, 2015
Count 3 – Charged with murder of Baby C on June 14, 2015
Count 4 – Charged with murder of Baby D on June 22, 2015
Count 5 – Charged with murder of Baby E on August 4, 2015
Count 6 – Charged with attempted murder of Baby F on August 5, 2015
Count 7 – Charged with attempted murder of Baby G on September 7, 2015
Count 8 – Charged with attempted murder of Baby G on September 21, 2015
Count 9 – Charged with attempted murder of Baby G on September 21, 2015
Count 10 – Charged with attempted murder of Baby H on September 26, 2015
Count 11 – Charged with attempted murder of Baby H on September 27, 2015
Count 12 – Charged with murder of Baby I on October 23, 2015
Count 13 – Charged with attempted murder of Baby J on November 27, 2015
Count 14 – Charged with attempted murder of Baby K on February 17, 2015
Count 15 – Charged with attempted murder of Baby L on April 9, 2016
Count 16 – Charged with attempted murder of Baby M on April 9, 2016
Count 17 – Charged with attempted murder of Baby N on June 3, 2016
Count 18 – Charged with attempted murder of Baby N on June 15, 2016
Count 19 – Charged with attempted murder of Baby N on June 15, 2016
Count 20 – Charged with murder of Baby O on June 23, 2016
Count 21 – Charged with murder of Baby P on June 24, 2016
Count 22 – Charged with attempted murder of Baby Q on June 25, 2016