Lucy Letby, a British former neonatal nurse, who was convicted of the murders of seven newborn babies under her care and of the attempted murder of a further six, has been handed down a rare life prison sentence without any possibility of release over the "malevolent" and "sadistic" crimes.
What you need to know
Letby began nursing in her 20s and worked on the neonatal ward at the Countess of Chester hospital in England.
Police claim Letby was involved in a total of 17 attacks against newborn babies in her care between June 2015 and June 2016.
The meticulously planned killings saw Letby target siblings, premature babies and the most vulnerable.
A jury found Letby guilty of the murders of seven newborns and the attempted murder of a further six.
Overnight, she was sentenced to spend the rest of her life behind bars - the most severe punishment possible under British law, which does not allow the death penalty.
❓ How did this happen?
Letby skilfully covered her tracks after each murder, using her extensive knowledge about how the hospital operated and when she knew she was going to be alone with the infants. Her happy, unsuspecting demeanour meant she was able to fly under the radar among staff, many of whom she was close friends with.
It wasn't until Letby was identified as the one common denominator in all the deaths that she was removed from the wing in June, 2016 and placed into an administration role at the hospital and later arrested.
Extremely high insulin levels detected in the bloodstream of some of Letby's victims were considered to be the "smoking gun" in the case — until police found an apparent hand-written confession in her room.
🗣️ What they said?
Lucy Letby herself had written on a note, in capital letters, "I AM EVIL I DID THIS”. The note was found in a police search of her three-bedroom home on Westbourne Road, Chester, after she was arrested in July 2018.
Judge Justice Goss "There was a malevolence bordering on sadism in your action. During the course of this trial, you have coldly denied any responsibility for your wrongdoing. You have no remorse. There are no mitigating factors."
Jonathan Storer, Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS Mersey-Cheshire: “This is an utterly horrifying case. Like everyone who followed the trial, I have been appalled by Letby’s callous crimes."
A joint statement from the victims' families: "Today justice has been served and the nurse who should have been caring for our babies has been found guilty of harming them. But this justice will not take away from the extreme hurt, anger and distress that we have all had to experience. Some families did not receive the verdict that they expected and therefore it is a bittersweet result."
In the UK, where there is no death penalty, the harshest possible punishment for a person is life behind bars without any possibility of release. Letby will die in prison, a sentence deemed appropriate due to her "cold" denial of any responsibility or wrongdoing, lack of remorse and "no mitigating factors".
The maximum-security prison where Letby will spend the rest of her life is likely to be HMP Low Newton, and also houses some of Britain's most notorious female criminals including "House of Horrors" killer Rosemary West. According to The Guardian, there are fewer than 150 inmates, with life inside the prison comparatively pleasant. There are “relatively low” levels of violence, seven wings plus a healthcare unit, a shopping facility and even organised animal visits.
Police fear Letby may have even more victims than authorities are aware of. Detectives now face the excruciating task of examining the records of thousands of babies formerly under her care.
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