Citing Nurse's 'Sadism,' Judge Sends Her to Jail for Life

Britain's Lucy Letby killed 7 babies in the hospital, tried to kill others
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 18, 2023 9:17 AM CDT
Updated Aug 21, 2023 7:27 AM CDT
British Nurse Guilty of Murdering 7 Babies
This undated handout issued by Cheshire Constabulary shows Lucy Letby.   (Cheshire Constabulary via AP)
UPDATE Aug 21, 2023 7:27 AM CDT

A British nurse who murdered seven babies in her care at a hospital—and tried to kill others still—will spend the rest of her life in prison. A judge handed down the life sentence Monday to Lucy Letby, 33, reports the BBC. "This was a cruel, calculated, and cynical campaign of child murder involving the smallest and most vulnerable of children," said Justice James Goss, opting for the most severe sentence possible. The judge took note of a "deep malevolence bordering on sadism. ... You have no remorse. ... There are no mitigating factors. ... The offenses are of sufficient severity to require a whole life order."

Aug 18, 2023 9:17 AM CDT

After a long and harrowing trial, neonatal nurse Lucy Letby has been found guilty of murdering seven babies in her care at a hospital in England between June 2015 and June 2016, making her the worst serial killer of children in modern British history. Prosecutors described the killings of premature infants—five boys and two girls—at the Countess of Chester hospital as "persistent, calculated, and cold-blooded," the Guardian reports. Letby, 33, was also found guilty of seven counts of attempted murder involving six babies. Prosecutors said that in some cases, Letby would try to kill babies again after a first attempt failed. One victim, a girl born 10 weeks premature, was murdered after three previous attempts failed.

Letby killed one boy who had been born just 24 hours earlier and tried to kill his twin sister the next day. Other victims included two brothers from a set of identical triplets who were killed within 24 hours of each other. Prosecutors said Letby used a variety of methods to kill the infants, including injecting them with air. "In her hands, innocuous substances like air, milk, fluids—or medication like insulin—would become lethal. She perverted her learning and weaponized her craft to inflict harm, grief, and death," Pascale Jones, a prosecutor with the Crown Prosecution Service, said in a statement, per the BBC. "Time and again, she harmed babies, in an environment which should have been safe for them and their families."

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Her trial lasted 10 months. The jury spent more than 110 hours deliberating the 22 charges against her, the Telegraph reports. They found her not guilty on two counts of attempted murder were unable to reach verdicts on six others. Justice James Goss thanked them for their service in the "distressing and upsetting case" and for their "obvious care and sense of responsibility" in the deliberations. Goss said they were released from ever being called for jury duty again. Police are investigating other infant deaths at hospitals Letby worked at between 2012 and 2016, and more charges—and trials—are possible. Letby will be sentenced next week and she is expected to become the third woman in Britain serving a sentence of life with no chance of parole. (More United Kingdom stories.)

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