Nurse Lucy Letby accused of murdering seven babies 'blamed' for hospital failings, court told

Lucy Letby was a "dedicated nurse" who "in no way" wanted to harm the babies she was looking after, the court was told.

A nurse accused of murdering seven babies and attempting to kill 10 others is being blamed for failings at her hospital, a court has been told.

Lucy Letby was a "dedicated nurse" who "in no way" wanted to harm the babies she was looking after, Ben Myers KC, defending, said.

Instead, he told Manchester Crown Court, that it was a "theory of guilt based firmly on coincidence", with premature babies also collapsing when she was not on shift.

He said: "These allegations are allegations of attacks, poisonings, sabotage.

"Powerful words likely to have a powerful emotional impact on you."

"The fact that Lucy Letby has been present at the time of the deterioration of a child has itself become the explanation of that deterioration," he added.

"Even though there's no evidence to show she has caused that to happen."

The 32-year-old nurse, originally from Hereford, is accused of deliberately attacking newborn children in a variety of ways, including poisoning, during an alleged killing spree on the neonatal unit at Countess of Chester Hospital between June 2015 and June 2016.

Giving the jury a "short introduction" to the defence case, Mr Myers said Letby worked at a hospital which he suggested was "overstretched and understaffed", highlighting problems with the way the neonatal unit was run.

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

He cited a Post-it note, mentioned in the prosecution opening, on which Letby had written, "I am evil I did this" in capital letters.

"This is 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," Mr Myers said.

He added at the time it was written Letby was dealing with employment issues, including a grievance procedure with the NHS trust.

The Post-it note, enlarged and shown on screens to the jury, included the words: "Not good enough. I’m an awful person. I will never have children or marry. Despair", and "I haven’t done anything wrong".

Mr Myers said the paperwork and notes found in Letby’s possession showed she was the type of person who scribbles things down a lot and hangs on to bits of paper, and "nothing more extraordinary than that".

The notes were found during a police search of Lucy Letby's home in Chester. Credit: ITV Granada Reports

Mr Myers told the jury that it was difficult "to think of allegations that could be more upsetting than these".

"It is difficult to think about allegations that strike harder to our desire to protect than these allegations," he added.

"And it is difficult to think of allegations that may be harder to step back and think fairly at the evidence than these allegations.

"The sympathies of everyone will rightly be with the families of all those involved in this case, those children."

Mr Myers acknowledged the upset caused by the allegations, and the "very great loss and sadness of the families involved".

"Anything that I do, or say, during this trial is not intended to diminish that in any way," he said.

He told jurors it would be "staggeringly unfair" to convict a person without a word of evidence.

Mr Myers said: "There is a real danger that people will simply accept the prosecution theory of guilt and that’s all we have so far, ladies and gentlemen, a theory of guilt based firmly on coincidence - if anything can be based firmly on coincidence."

Ben Myers KC, pointing to Letby sitting in the dock, told jurors: "It is important to be careful that blame is not heaped on that woman when there may be others who have made mistakes or a system which has failed."

In some cases, the defence say, no-one could say why a particular child deteriorated or died.

Mr Myers told jurors: "The defence say that Lucy Letby was a dedicated nurse. She trained hard to be a neonatal nurse and what she wanted was to care for babies she looked after.

"In no way did she want to harm them. The defence say she is not guilty of causing intentional harm to any baby or to killing any baby.

"She loved her job. She cared deeply about the babies and also cared for their families.

"She had a fulfilling life, had friends, a life outside work.

"You won’t get the answers to this case looking at this woman in the dock now. This is how she is and where she is six years after starting to face allegations like this.

"You can imagine that must be utterly gruelling for anyone.

"This is an important part of her case. The requirement to keep context in mind and to distinguish how she was when events were said to have taken place, compared to how she is now.

“With these allegations we are dealing with a real person who is where she is now. Anyone who approaches this as some kind of a done deal has got this very badly wrong."

Letby denies the allegations. The trial continues.