A nurse sent a sympathy card to the parents of a baby girl whom she is alleged to have murdered on her fourth attempt, a court was told.
Lucy Letby, 32, is accused of attacking the two-month old child repeatedly in September and October 2015 in a “persistent, calculated and cold-blooded” effort to kill her.
The neonatal nurse is currently on trial charged with murdering seven babies and attempting to murder 10 others over a year-long period at the Countess of Chester Hospital. She denies all charges against her.
The death of the baby known as Child I was described by Nick Johnson KC, prosecuting, as an “extreme example even by the standards of this overall case”.
He told jurors at Manchester Crown Court that the child was “resilient” after suffering serious collapses each time Ms Letby allegedly injected her with air, until she eventually died in the early hours of October 23, 2015.
After Child I was pronounced dead, her parents were taken to a private room by Ms Letby and another nurse, where the mother was asked if she wanted to bathe her daughter a final time.
The prosecutor said Child I’s mother agreed, but while she tended to her deceased child, Ms Letby came into the room.
The mother said Ms Letby “was smiling and kept going on about how she was present at Child I’s first bath and how much Child I had loved it”, jurors were told. Ms Letby later sent a sympathy card to Child I’s parents.
The prosecutor said police asked the nurse about this decision in June 2019. “She said that to send a card was not normal – indeed this was the only time she had ever done it; but that it was not often the nurses got to know a family as well as they had known Child I’s family,” he said.
“She accepted that she had kept an image of that card on her phone.”
Child I was born prematurely in August 2015 at Liverpool Women’s Hospital before being transferred to the Countess of Chester to receive further treatment.
She was eight weeks old and in good health at the time of the first alleged attack on September 30.
The baby suffered a drastic deterioration shortly after she had been fed by Ms Letby, the court heard. It was found that excessive air and fluid was making it hard for her to breathe.
“Once removed from the orbit of Lucy Letby, she improved,” the prosecutor said.
Mr Johnson said that the next attack occurred on the night of October 12, when Ms Letby commented that the baby “looked pale” while standing in the doorway of a darkened room.
“You might also wonder how, standing in the doorway of a darkened room, Lucy Letby could notice that Child I looked pale,” the prosecutor told jurors.
Doctors found the baby on the brink of death but managed to save her. They did so again after Ms Letby’s next alleged attack on the night of October 13.
Ms Letby “succeeded” in killing Child I in the early hours of October 23. Another nurse had been charged with Child I’s care that night and heard an alarm sounding when she briefly left the room.
Rushing back into the room, she saw Ms Letby standing at the incubator, the prosecutor said.
“Child I was very distressed, (the nurse) wanted to intervene but Letby said that they would be able to sort it out: don’t worry, we’ll be able to sort it out,” he said. “Child I then collapsed.”
She died around 90 minutes later.
Mr Johnson said: “Child I’s case is an extreme example even by the standards of this overall case… Child I was resilient, but ultimately at the fourth attempt Lucy Letby succeeded in killing her.”
He added: “It was persistent, it was calculated and it was cold-blooded.”
The court was also told that in a separate incident a television doctor was caring for one of the babies Ms Letby is accused of attempting to murder and was “troubled” by her behaviour.
Dr Ravi Jayaram, who has appeared as a medical expert on Channel 4’s How To Stay Well and ITV’s This Morning, had overseen the care of a baby known as Child K.
She had been born very prematurely and was booked into the neonatal unit while arrangements were made to take her to a more specialist facility.
Less than two hours after the child was born in February 2016, Dr Jayaram was standing near the nursery when he became aware Ms Letby was alone with Child K.
The prosecutor said: “Feeling uncomfortable with this because he had started to notice a coincidence between unexplained deaths, serious collapses and the presence of Lucy Letby, Dr Jayaram decided to check on where Lucy Letby was and how Child K was.
“He saw Lucy Letby standing over Child K’s incubator. She didn’t have her hands inside the incubator, but Dr Jayaram could see from the monitor that was on the wall that Child K’s oxygen levels were falling dangerously to somewhere in the 80s.
“But, despite the fact that the oxygen levels were falling, no alarm was sounding and Lucy Letby had not called for help and was making no effort to help Child K.”
He added: “Dr Jayaram was troubled as Nurse Letby had been the only person in the room.”
The baby survived and the doctor did not make any contemporaneous notes of his suspicions, the jury were told.
The trial continues.