LONDON - A British nurse was jailed for life on Monday, with no prospect of release, for murdering seven newborn babies and attempting to kill six others while they were in her care.
Lucy Letby, 33, was convicted of killing five baby boys and two baby girls, making her the UK’s most prolific child serial killer in modern history. She was arrested following a string of baby deaths at the neonatal unit of the Countess of Chester Hospital in northwest England between June 2015 and June 2016. The prosecution said Letby attacked her vulnerable prematurely born victims, often during night shifts, by either injecting them with air, overfeeding them with milk or poisoning them with insulin.
“Today’s sentence means Letby will never again be able to inflict the suffering she did while working as a neonatal nurse,” said Senior Crown Prosecutor Pascale Jones. Following a trial that began in October 2022, a jury at Manchester Crown Court ended more than 100 hours of deliberations on Friday. Letby was in the dock as the jury returned the first guilty decisions earlier in August. But she refused to come up from the cells for her sentencing on Monday. “You acted in a way that was completely contrary to the normal human instincts of nurturing and caring for babies,” judge James Goss said, addressing Letby in her absence.
He said there was “premeditation, calculation and cunning” in her actions, with a “deep malevolence bordering on sadism”. “You have no remorse,” the judge said, ordering her to be given a written copy of the sentencing remarks and the families’ victim impact statements. “There are no mitigating factors.” Goss said that “because the seriousness of your offences are exceptionally high, I direct that the early release provisions do not apply. “The order of the court therefore is a whole life order on each and every offence and you will spend the rest of your life in prison,” the judge said.
Letby is just the fourth woman in England and Wales to receive a whole life term, with notorious serial killers Rose West and Myra Hindley among those handed the harshest sentence.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said it was “cowardly that people who commit such horrendous crimes do not face their victims”. The leader of the main opposition Labour party, former chief prosecutor Keir Starmer, promised to close the “shamefully exploited loophole” if elected to government. However, legal experts suggested that practical issues involved in bringing unwilling defendants to court could scupper such plans.
Letby’s absence on Monday meant she did not hear the families’ victim impact statements. “You thought it was your right to play God with our children’s lives,” the mother of a twin boy and girl who were attacked in June 2015 said in a statement read to the court.