Lucy Letby: Killer nurse's guilty verdicts end one of the most harrowing trials in modern Britain

Lucy Letby was found guilty of 14 out of 22 counts on Friday. Credit: PA

It was perhaps the most damning piece of evidence in the whole trial. An apparent confession note in Lucy Letby’s own scribbled handwriting where she admitted "I’m evil, I did this".

Shown on the fourth day of one of the most complicated stories I’ve ever covered, it seemed like there was only one way this trial could go.

Letby seemed unfazed by the strength of the evidence against her as her private note was presented on screens around the court room.

As reporters we knew how important this note could be in bringing her down. Frantically, we all tried to write any legible words we could see. If there was ever a time I wished we could take photos in court it was then - but the prosecution weren’t finished there.

They also showed the jury other comments where Letby wrote: "I don’t deserve to live. I killed them on purpose because I’m not good enough.”

It was a strong start to the prosecution's opening in this trial but bizarrely it was the same way the defence chose to open their case too – except drawing the jury’s attention to different comments Letby wrote - protestations she didn’t harm any child where she said: “Not good enough. I’m an awful person. I will never have children or marry. Despair” and “I haven’t done anything wrong”.

The defence told the court these were not the writings of a murderer but the “anguished outpouring of a young woman in fear and despair when she realises the enormity of what’s being said about her, in the moment to herself".

It was so rare to have a trial start this way, where both the prosecution and defence were using the same piece of evidence, but it meant we were able to ask the judge if we could have the note and broadcast it in our reporting.

The note found by Letby which includes the words 'I am evil I did this' but also 'I haven’t done anything wrong' and 'I feel very alone'. Credit: Crown Prosecution Service

The judge, Mr Justice Goss, agreed and the note was used in our lead story that evening for what would turn out to be one of the most harrowing trials in modern British history.

Letby was finally found guilty on Friday of murdering seven newborn babies, and attempting to murder a further six more – bringing to an end an eight-year ordeal for the families.

Letby, originally from Hereford, was found guilty of 14 of the 22 counts she faced, including the murder of five boys and two girls.

“One of the things that upsets me the most is I never had the opportunity to hold my son while he was still alive," Child A's parents said in a statement when the trial opened last October.

Despite how harrowing their stories were this has not been a trial soaked with emotion.

Not all of the families gave evidence and the ones who did read family impact statements which - although awful to listen to – only lasted a few days across the 10-month trial.

This case has really been dominated by medically complex evidence – exhausting at times to follow and something the jurors were given a 25-page glossary to help them understand not only how vulnerable these babies were, but also what might have caused them to deteriorate and why some circumstances were suspicious.

'Encephalomalacia', 'aspirate', and 'necrotising enterocolitis' were just some of the new words in the jurors' - and our - vocabularies.

New terminologies many of us had never heard before were suddenly mentioned almost every day in court and we had to know what they meant to know why they were important.

Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Nicholas Johnson KC cross-examining nurse Lucy Letby Credit: Elizabeth Cook/PA Wire

Letby though sat impassively through all the evidence.

It wasn’t until the fourth month in the trial she shed her first tear when a doctor who can’t be named (but who the prosecution claimed Letby had a crush on) appeared in court to give evidence.

He spoke from behind a screen so the former neonatal nurse couldn’t see him. Abruptly, Letby left her seat and tried to walk out of the glass-panelled dock.

After a few minutes she was consoled by the female officers beside her in court and the doctor continued his evidence against his former, in Letby’s words, friend.

In May, after seven months of people talking about her, it was finally Letby’s chance to speak.

Always flanked by two female officers and holding a comforter hidden below the table, she gave evidence over the space of five weeks.

Hearing her talk was something I knew everyone following this case was interested in.

Until that point in the trial no one had any sense of what she was like, what her characteristics were, or how she was going to respond to questioning in cross examination.

Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Lucy Letby giving evidence in the dock at Manchester Crown Court Credit: Elizabeth Cook/PA Wire

Her defence barrister Ben Myers KC started his questioning by asking Letby about how the trial had impacted her life which triggered tears again. But this was something that bolstered the prosecutions case who, on cross examination, argued it was telling that she only shed a tear for herself.

Towards the end of her cross examination felt, for me, like the most tense part of the trial because we weren’t sure Letby would make it through to the end.

Her expression became noticeably glazed over and the judge had to allow extra breaks in questioning.

Some that were meant to be 20 minutes turned into two hours and at times court had to be adjourned early for the day.

In a trial this big – involving 17 victims and 22 counts – there were always going to be delays.

In October I reported how the trial was due to last six months but by the time we eventually reached that milestone date, the defence hadn’t even started their case. Hearing complicated evidence scattered across 10 months was difficult to digest and for many of us among the media watching, including myself, the outcome of the case wasn’t clear.

While the prosecution had to convince the jury that not only were these babies murdered, but that it was Lucy Letby – the defence just had to put doubt in the jury’s minds. Not sure means not guilty, and in a trial based on circumstantial evidence, at times it was hard to be sure of what happened.

One of the most challenging parts of this story was that the prosecution themselves couldn’t provide a cause of death for some of the victims. They simply said that Lucy Letby attacked them which she always denied.

At times this story often came down to who you believe more.

But ultimately it was the power of the circumstantial evidence that the jury couldn’t ignore, agreeing there was no such thing as an innocent coincidence.

Multiple expert witnesses were convinced she fatally injected babies with air, something Letby always denied but her crucial failure was that she couldn’t offer an alternative theory.

When it came to the defence bringing forward witnesses, after days of hearing they weren’t going to call anyone, finally we heard they had someone willing to speak and defend Lucy Letby.

Lorenzo Mansutti was a plumber who had worked on the hospital estate since 1986.

He was asked about allegations Letby made that between 2015 and 2016 there was "raw sewage coming out of the sinks".

Letby said the issues could have played a role in the unexplained deaths and collapses of babies as staff were unable to clean their hands.

“It’s a contributory issue if the unit is dirty and staff were unable to wash their hands,” she said.

Mr Mansutti confirmed there were weekly callouts for drainage problems at the hospital but it wasn’t enough to convince the jury.

After 110 hours and 26 minutes of deliberating - and with verdicts spread over 22 days - the jury finally decided Lucy Letby was guilty of murdering seven babies and attempting to kill six others.

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